Bullying may be an age-old problem, but that doesn’t make it any more bearable for children suffering at the hands of school bullies. In this article, psychologist Dr. Martin Keller talks about personality types at risk for being bullied and how adults can work together to prevent bullying of school students.

The Bully vs. the Bullied

Kids who bully and kids who are bullied often have completely opposite personalities. Whereas children who are bullies tend to be defiant, aggressive, impulsive and have little empathy toward others, kids who are subject to being bullied are often caring, quiet, sensitive and are sometimes withdrawn.
Opposite personalities such as these often create the “perfect storm” type of environment for a child to be bullied, but there are ways that adults can work to discourage bullying and promote a peaceful, unified environment at school.

Be Involved

Kids who sense that the adults around them are caring, concerned and take the time to be involved in their lives will often incorporate to the environment they are in. Kids with a tendency to bully will often learn to welcome the care and concern of the adults around them, and kids with a tendency to be bullied will learn to be confident in knowing that there are people they can go to with any concerns about bullying behavior

Set Firm Rules

By setting firm rules for unacceptable behavior, adults at school can set boundaries from the beginning that make it clear that bullying in any form will not be tolerated.  All students should have a clear understanding of the rules pertaining to the treatment of others as soon as the school year starts. Reminders of these rules via colorful, engaging and positive posters and signs – as well as examples set by adults – will encourage children to always be mindful of how they treat other students.

Be Consistent When it comes to Consequences

It’s important that the consequences for violation of those rules be consistent, non-punitive and non-physical. Instead, the consequences for violation of rules regarding the treatment of fellow students should be actions that result in fewer opportunities and rewards for those who engage in bullying behaviors, and more opportunities and rewards for those who work to promote a caring, supportive and unified environment among students.

Be a Positive Role Model

Both bullies and victims of bullies are affected positively by adults who make a consistent effort to be a positive role model for students. Adults who portray their authoritative position in a positive, caring, welcoming and yet firm manner encourage students to behave similarly and to have their own positive impact on the world around them.

When Prevention Doesn’t Work

If your child is being bullied at school and the anti-bullying techniques at school aren’t effective enough, it’s important to connect with a licensed child psychologist that can help you and your child develop techniques to defend and protect himself or herself in a non-violent way from the bully. Professional child psychologists are trained specifically to help children and families overcome and outwit a bully’s tactics.