Four Ways Youth-Serving Organizations Can Address Bullying

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A young woman faces the camera and away from bullies laughing at her.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, but the topic seems to be in the news and on Americans’ minds year round. As a youth worker, what can you do to stop bullying in your program and your community? Here are some ideas:

1. Find out how bad the problem is. Researchers have created dozens of evidence-based tools that measure different aspects of bullying. The Centers for Disease Controls’ compendium of assessment tools can help you choose from a range of surveys and scales that investigate the experiences of bullies, bullied youth and bystanders. Included are tools that measure homophobia.

2. Learn what not to do. In a video from Stopbullying.gov, Catherine Bradshaw of Johns Hopkins University says some common approaches to stopping bullying, like peer mediation and group therapy, may actually reinforce aggressive behavior.

3. Identify victims' legal recourse. Policies differ by state. For example, Massachusetts provides a detailed list of technology and electronic communication that is considered bullying, while Colorado does not prohibit cyberbullying at all. Find out your state’s anti-bullying laws by visiting Stopbullying.gov’s map.

4. Work with youth to create an action plan. The National Bullying Prevention Center, run by disability-rights nonprofit PACER, offers a step-by-step guide and an action plan template that you can use to help youth record incidents of bullying and think about how they’ll respond in the future.

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