Mariposa County Project Respect


mother & child

What can I do if my child is being bullied?

If your child is being bullied, you can help them to learn to avoid responding in ways that reward bullying behavior. Here are some ideas:

  • Teach your child ways to be assertive, not aggressive, in response to the bullying behavior. Fighting back only makes bullying worse. Teach children to use their words to respond, such as “That’s bullying and I want you to stop!”
  • Assure your child that he/she is not to blame.
  • Tell them to report all bullying to an adult at school or to a parent. Teach them the difference between telling to get help, versus tattling just to get someone in trouble.
  • Help them to role-play friendship-developing skills that will help them avoid bullying (making conversation with other children, joining a group, being respectful to other children, or being assertive).
  • Talk to your child’s teacher or school principal if the bullying continues.

What can I do if my child is bullying others?

It’s sometimes hard to recognize when our own children are bullying others. Children who bully may tend to exhibit other behaviors such as: frequent name-calling, regular bragging, a need to get his or her own way, a defiant attitude, or a lack of empathy for others. There are ways that we can promote respectful behavior at home:

  • Spend time talking to your child and helping them to brainstorm ways to be cooperative and respectful in their problem solving skills.
  • Be consistent about discipline. Hold your child responsible for hurtful or negative behaviors. Avoid using put-downs or physical punishment, because children may learn this behavior as a way to resolve problems with other children.
  • Eliminate toys, games, and TV show that glamorize or reward aggressive behavior. Once again, children learn how to bully by watching interactions around them.
  • Praise your child for non-aggressive and respectful interactions.
  • Teach your child to stay calm when they are feeling frustrated or angry, by counting to ten or walking away from a situation.
  • Make sure your child knows what other kids expect – observe them playing with others and if you think there are unspoken rules that your child doesn’t understand, discuss them privately with your child.
  • Help your child to see other's points of views and explore how other children are feeling in certain situations. Sometimes, children who bully haven’t learned how to read these cues or empathize with others.
  • Talk to your child’s school counselor or principal for other strategies they may be able to help with to address this behavior.

Isn’t bullying just a normal part of growing up?

The many myths about bullying include the notion that bullying is a harmless childhood activity – and a normal part of growing up. Confusion about the difference between conflict and bullying can fuel this myth. While occasional peer conflict is inevitable, bullying is not inevitable. It should always be avoided. In a conflict, both sides have equal power to resolve the problem. But bullying involves the intentional, one-sided use of power to control another. Its harmful consequences can seriously affect people for the rest of their lives. For more information about what parents should know about bullying:


How many children does bullying really affect?

In Mariposa County a Needs Assessment was conducted to determine how many children were affected in our community. Our research found that over 40% of the youth surveyed indicated they had been bullied in the past year. Click on link for more details.

Bullying affects virtually all children. While it is true that some children will never be bullied, research shows that children witness 85% of school bullying incidents. Child witnesses, or bystanders, may feel powerless to stop bullying. They may fear being bullied next. And they may feel sad or guilty about the abuse others experience. Additionally, bystanders may see those who bully succeed at getting what they want. This may tempt bystanders to take part themselves and lead to an overall interest in bullying.

People sometimes assume that only boys engage in bullying, but this is not true. Girls also bully others. Boys tend to use methods such as fighting or threatening, whereas girls more often use subtler, behind-the-back methods such as spreading gossip or rumors. The important thing to remember is that all of these things, whether used by boys or girls, are considered bullying.


Community Resources

There are some agencies and groups that you may want to connect with as a parent to further explore how to address bullying at home, at school and in the community.

Mariposa Mothers Against School Hazing (MASH)
Contact: Toni Southwood
Phone: 966-2826

Mariposa Safe Families
Phone: 209-966-2211
Toll-free phone: 877-256-5465

Mountain Crisis Services
Phone: 209-742-5865
Hotline: 888-966-2350  


National Resources

Com. for Child.

The Committe for Children
Their program, Steps to Respect, will be framing our efforts. The parent page has many good resources, and you may subscribe to their online newsletter.