Bullying Solutions for All Ages

Bullying Solutions

For All Ages

Most bullying, including adult-to-adult bullying, can be stopped or prevented when everyone involved learns and uses core social-emotional safety skills. We teach:

  • Social-emotional safety skills to be safe from bullying and cyberbullying at all ages
  • Safety leadership strategies for adults to ensure that everyone in their homes, schools, and workplaces is safe from bullying and harassment
  • Positive intervention and coaching skills to guide those using bullying behaviors to replace them with pro-social behaviors.

We provide tailored support for dealing with specific types of bullying such as social aggression, cyberbullying, adult-to-adult bullying, and prejudice-based bullying and harm.

See Kidpower answers to common questions – and use the suggested resources and books to protect children from bullying.

Our Online Learning Center courses include lessons you can use right now to build your own skills and empower others.

To explore workshop options, see our Programs for Schools, our Workshops page – or just contact us!

FAQs: Kidpower Answers to Common Questions about Bullying Prevention

Bullying seems to be prevalent everywhere. Can it be stopped, or even better, prevented?

Most harm caused by bullying is PREVENTABLE!

Our article Face Bullying with Confidence: 8 Kidpower skills we can use right away have helped to prepare countless people of all ages and abilities to prevent and stop bullying. Whether you are a parent, educator, or other caring adult, you can coach young people to practice these bullying prevention skills to protect them from most bullying, increase their confidence, and help them develop positive peer relationships. Whether you are a parent, educator, or other caring adult, when you are coaching someone to practice safety skills, this individual is your student and you are their teacher.

What is bullying?

Bullying is when a person or group deliberately tries to make someone else feel upset, scared, or ashamed. People often bully others who have any difference of behavior, appearance, culture, race, class, ability, or identity.

The technical definition of bullying is, “a repeated oppression, psychological or physical, of a less powerful person by a more powerful person or group of persons.” Bullying is different from aggression between people of equal power. However, someone can have less power than others for many reasons – being shy; being different in any way; lacking confidence; having problems at home; having a disability; being of a minority race or religion; being a high achiever; or lacking physical strength. In addition, even one unresolved incident of feeling personally attacked can cause lasting upset even if it does not fit the technical definition of bullying.

Bullying takes many different forms, including: physical threats or violence; name-calling and teasing; mocking; shunning and ostracism; and social attacks on someone’s reputation. People can bully others directly, in person; indirectly, such as by gossiping or ‘badmouthing’ by voice to others; or through any form of communication technology, including talking on the phone, writing, texting, emailing, recording, and in gaming environments. Bullying behavior occurs in schools, sports, youth groups, work places, social groups, recreational camps, senior centers, and online activities. Bullying can happen anywhere people gather, either in the real world or the virtual world. Bullying takes place between people of all ages, identities, and walks of life.

Young people who are being bullied are especially likely to feel trapped and alone because they usually don’t have a choice about where they live, go to school, or play.

What is the difference between bullying and normal conflict between peers?

Conflict is a normal part of most relationships because people have different perspectives and priorities. While kids need adult supervision so that they learn how to deal with conflict constructively, most upsetting behavior between people is NOT bullying. People can also be hurtful to each other because of thoughtlessness, annoyance, poor boundaries, and experimenting with negative uses of their power without realizing the impact.

The good news is that the social-emotional skills that can prevent and stop most bullying and harassment are also important in developing healthy relationships. Learning how to take charge of their own emotional and physical safety; how to act safely and respectfully towards others even if they feel frustrated or upset; how to set boundaries and respect the boundaries of others; and how to advocate effectively to help others, empowers most people and gives them tools to better manage future conflicts and relationship issues.

The bottom line is that everyone has the right to be treated with respect, and the responsibility to act respectfully towards themselves and others.

How do I help protect the young people in my life from bullying?

Children and teens need consistent, repeated messages from their parents, teachers, principals, coaches, recreation leaders, and other caring adults that,

“I want you to be and feel safe. Being safe means freedom from harm to your body and your feelings. Your job is to speak up if someone is saying or doing something that is hurtful to you – and to get help from the adults in charge if that doesn’t work.

I also want you to act safely and respectfully towards others. Your job is to stay in charge of what you say and do so that you are not being harmful or scary, even if you feel really annoyed, scared, or upset. You can be powerful in protecting yourself and respectful at the same time. If you have trouble at school or anywhere else, I want you to tell me.”

What you do is even more important than what you say. Model being powerful and respectful while setting boundaries to advocate for and protect the well being of yourself and others – and while noticing and honoring the boundaries of others. Show how some boundaries need to be negotiated. Ask kids to tell you what bullying is – and whether they have ever seen anyone being bullied. Discuss when characters in books or movies are bullying or being victimized by bullying.

Pay attention and intervene  when you see kids acting in hurtful or disrespectful ways towards each other with the same intention that you would stop young people from throwing rocks through a window. If we don’t respond when kids are being unkind or unsafe, we are not walking our talk.

Interrupting and redirecting harmful behavior can be as simple as saying, “Excuse me! That sounds hurtful/doesn’t look safe! What’s going on?” You can then have kids practice how to communicate in ways that meet your values.

Discuss the Kidpower Protection Promise with every child and teen in your care so that they know that they can come to you for help. From time to time, ask the young people in your life, “Is there anything you’ve been wondering or worrying about that you haven’t told me?”

What should children and teens do if someone tries to bully them, in person or online?

Give young people opportunities to practice being powerful, respectful, and persistent when using these skills:

  • Using their awareness to notice a problem situation and move out of reach, either in person or online.
  • Telling someone to stop hurtful behavior.
  • Asking to join a game, conversation, or other activity in a friendly, confident way.
  • Leaving and finding someone else to hang out with.
  • Protecting their feelings from hurtful words or behaviors.
  • Interrupting busy adults and being persistent in asking for help with a safety problem.

Make sure that children know that most adults want them to be safe at school and at recreational activities, and will listen if they understand the problem. See our articles:

What should children and teens do if they see another kid being bullied?

If young people witness bullying, their wisest choices are going to depend on the situation – they can speak up, reach out, and/or leave to get help.

Suppose the person doing the bullying is being unkind by leaving another kid out or by calling names. Give kids practice speaking up while staying polite and confident with statements like:

  • “Stop! That seems like a hurtful thing to say.”
  • “Wait! The rule here is that everybody gets to play!”
  • “Hi! What’s going on?”
  • “Hey! That’s not cool!”

Show how to persist respectfully if someone reacts negatively. Discuss recognizing bullying online and point out that “liking” or sharing hurtful messages is participating in bullying.

If kids don’t feel safe or able to speak up, their wisest choice is usually to leave and get help. Suppose someone is being threatening or physically unsafe by hitting, kicking, tripping, or shoving. Give kids practice in how to leave right away and interrupt a busy adult to get help. Encourage kids to reach out to someone who has been bullied by offering support, giving an invitation to join an activity, or sitting together.

Young people can have a huge impact and be safer themselves if they know that any unsafe behavior on the Internet is an important time to get adult help. One of our Kidpower Teens, “Laura”, asked her mother for help because an online “friend” in a chat group was writing despairing comments about life not being worth living. With her mother’s guidance, Laura told this girl that feeling this was not safe and encouraged her to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline. The next day the girl wrote to Laura that she had talked to a counselor there for a very long time. Although she didn’t have clear answers yet, this girl was on the path to getting the kind of help she needed. See Suicide Prevention Success Story: The Opposite of Cyberbullying.

What should I do if I am worried that my child is being bullied?

First, take a breath! Stay calm no matter how you feel inside. You will be more successful in dealing with the problem, and your child will be more likely to give you accurate information, if you sound caring rather than upset or anxious. If your child tells you about a problem, thank your child for letting you know. If you’ve noticed something that your child has not mentioned, bring up the subject in a matter-of-fact way.

Most schools and youth groups are doing a tremendous job with limited resources and truly care about their students. Your job is to advocate for your child in a way that seeks solutions rather than blame.

See Bullying in Schools – 7 Solutions for Parents. Encourage adult leaders to apologize to children who have been bullied and to tell them directly that it is always okay to come to them for help. With better skills and strong support, everyone involved can learn what to do, as well as what to not do. Bullying can cause big problems — and can also create a tremendous opportunity to grow.

What if my child is doing the bullying?

Pushing boundaries and experimenting with negative uses of their power is normal for some young people. With adult guidance, they can learn to redirect this behavior and become positive leaders. Kids who bully need to know that unkind, hurtful behavior is against the rules and to face consistent, age-appropriate consequences. Rather than lecturing, use practice as a management tool to address unsafe, disrespectful behavior.

Look for the reasons underneath your child’s bullying behavior and practice skills that can help your child deal with these issues in a safer way. Remember that in a stressful moment, people of any age are more likely to do what they’ve practiced than what they’ve been told. Dealing with the disappointment of not getting what you want, having to wait your turn, feeling upset by what someone else said or did, understanding the other person’s point of view, and calming down instead of exploding in anger are all skills that can be learned and practiced until they become habits. See Practice as a Management Tool for Unsafe, Disrespectful Behavior.

Do you talk to kids about the steps to take if they feel they are the target of bullying?

YES. In addition to talking, we practice with kids how to find someone to talk with, and how to be persistent in getting help with safety problems from busy adults. We achieve this goal by teaching a combination of safety principles, and just as important, skills, for how to talk about problems with adults they trust.

Kidpower’s Founding ‘Put Safety First’ Principle is:

The safety and well being of a child are more important than anyone’s embarrassment, inconvenience, or offense – theirs, ours, or any other person’s.

Kidpower’s Four Core Boundary Principles are:

  1. We each belong to ourselves. Our bodies, our time, our personal space, and our choices – are ours alone.
  2. Some things are not a choice (health and safety).
  3. Problems should not have to be a secret. Games, touch, and presents someone gives you should not have to be a secret.
  4. Tell and keep telling – as many adults as you have to, as many times as you need to – until you get help and your problem stops.

Kidpower’s age-appropriate and ability-appropriate social safety skills include, among others: recognizing what is and is not safe; boundary-setting; moving away from trouble; projecting confidence; assertive advocacy; and persisting to get help effectively from adults when you have a Safety Problem of any kind, including possible bullying..

This two-pronged approach of teaching skills together with principles enables us to equip even very young children – as well as people of any age whose cognitive differences make them even more vulnerable to bullying than their peers – with skills they can use to get help if they feel unsafe in a broad range of situations, including in situations involving potential bullying, harassment, abuse, assault, and other violence, without burdening them with graphic details about ongoing bullying or abuse.

Focusing on the bad things that could happen does not make kids safer and can cause upset that can make it harder for kids to take action in the moment to be safe. This is why, in schools, teachers lead fire drill skills practices rather than talking about what happens to people in a fire; at swim facilities, instructors focus on swimming rather than on drowning; and in families, parents focus on the skills of fastening seat belts and looking both ways rather than on explaining what happens to people in car accidents. Similarly, Kidpower focuses on teaching skills that can help children be safer and get help from adults, rather than on talking about the details of possible danger.

Is your staff trained and qualified on how to deal with kids who have been bullied?

Yes. In order to receive and maintain certification, all Kidpower Instructors must consistently demonstrate an understanding of the actions they are expected to take if they believe a child in one of their workshops might be the target of bullying or have been abused.

Kidpower curriculum also includes the following core statement from The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults and the article: Sometimes the People Kids Love Have Problems: What Children DO and DO NOT Need to Know:

“Sometimes the people kids love have problems, and sometimes their problems are so big that they do things that hurt kids or make them uncomfortable. If this happens to you or a friend, it does NOT mean you did anything wrong. It means that the person who did this broke the Safety Rules and that you all need help. The best way to get help is to tell a grown-up you trust and to keep telling until that person or another person does something about it.  And it is NEVER too late to tell.”

All Kidpower Instructors are trained to support students of any age in getting help with any kind of Safety Problem, or anything that bothers them, from the adults in their lives who are in a position to help and protect that student in an ongoing way.

At least one such adult is always present in a Kidpower workshop that serves minors, because, in Kidpower group workshops, a minimum of one of the group’s regular leaders – the lead teacher, counselor, coach, etc. – is required to attend and participate fully in all activities. In workshops serving families, children must be accompanied by at least one of their own parents/guardians/care providers. Kidpower always enthusiastically welcomes parents and other support staff – such as the school aides, counselors, and administrators – to participate in workshops.

Even those Kidpower Instructors who happen to also be counselors, therapists, law enforcement officers, doctors, or lawyers themselves do not take on the role of counselor, therapist, health care provider, or legal advisor in the context of their work as Kidpower Instructors. Kidpower Instructors are highly trained ‘people safety’ skills teachers who work with groups for short periods to strengthen skills as well as communication between young people and the adults in their lives who can help them. Working within our clear boundaries with participating families and partner agencies is crucial for maintaining safety, respect, and healthy boundaries for all involved.

Here are our recommendations for adults, which have been used by tens of thousands of parents, teachers, and other caring adults in different school districts and organizations:  What to Do if a Child Reports Possible Abuse, Bullying, Harassment, or Anything Else That Bothers Them.

Does Kidpower teach about preventing sexual harassment as well as bullying?

Yes. Too often, young people use gender stereotypes and homophobia to make each other miserable.

To stop sexual harassment, adults must set a good example and speak up about behavior that happens in front of them. If we don’t say anything, we should not be surprised when young people believe that this behavior is acceptable to us.

Learn more about how Kidpower addresses sexual harassment in our Sexual Abuse Prevention and our Bullying Prevention programs, including stories from real teaching situations and our 8 actions adults can take to prevent and stop sexual harassment of young people in our article: Stopping Sexual Harassment in Schools.

What about cyber-bullying?

Technology provides people who react with bullying behavior with countless efficient and anonymous opportunities for targeting others.  We have found that the skills needed to stop bullying behavior online and via social media are the same as in person. When a young person knows how to make Safety Decisions for themselves and use Kidpower’s ‘People Safety’ skills in person, with very little adaptations, they are able to use them in their online activities as well.

In our workshops we focus on in-person skill development while creating clear pathways on how these skills can be use online. See also our articles:

Also see Kidpower’s Digital Citizenship and Safety Agreement – including a useful template you can adapt for your use.


Do you share tips with parents and teachers on how to report bullying?

Yes. Kidpower teaches advocacy skills and other skills for taking charge of safety on behalf of yourself and on behalf of loved ones in all kinds of safety situations, including – but not limited to – addressing bullying. We provide parents, teachers, and other caring adults with tools that are highly recommended by mental health experts, public safety officers, and educators for explaining and practicing ways to stay safe or counter bullying behavior that have proven to be clear for children of all ages without putting images in children’s minds that might be emotionally unsafe.

As skills teachers, we are not counselors or therapists, nor do we provide legal advice. Rather, we teach effective persistence, advocacy, and help-seeking skills in our workshops. In addition, Kidpower is a community resource accessible to all adults; they are not limited to accessing our resources only in the context of a workshop or of a service contract with a district or agency.

As a community resource, Kidpower offers guidance for parents, teachers, and other youth service professionals in assessing possible avenues for reporting, as many of the adults in our workshops work within structures that delineate pathways for reporting.

Developing the skills to assess those reporting pathways – and to assess the potential risk of moving outside those pathways – enables adults to act more effectively and powerfully as advocates for child safety in all situations, including those involving potential bullying.

Here are our recommendations for adults, which have been used by tens of thousands of parents, teachers, and other caring adults in different school districts and organizations:  What to Do if a Child Reports Possible Abuse, Bullying, Harassment, or Anything Else That Bothers Them.

We also provide ongoing education about bullying prevention actions for parents, teachers, and other caring adults who sign up for our newsletters, visit our Online Resource Library, or email us.

What can I do to protect my child from bullying and other kinds of violence?

1)  Make SURE you know what is happening with your kids – who are the people with them? What are they doing? Where are they going?

2)  Put Safety First – ahead of embarrassment, inconvenience, offense, fame, or fortune. Take action when a young person comes to you for help or when you suspect that there might be a problem. See our article about what to do when a child comes to you for help. 

3)  Make SURE kids know you CARE. Discuss the Kidpower Protection Promise with every child that you are in a position to support. Watch our 1 minute video, print out our free posters, and listen when kids come to you with their problems.

4)  Teach kids not to keep unsafe secrets. The Kidpower Safety Rule is that problems should not be a secret, any kind of touch should not be a secret, presents someone gives you should not be a secret, friendships should not be a secret, and activities or favors should not be a secret.

5)  Teach Kidpower skills for setting boundaries, recognizing and leaving an unsafe situation, resisting emotional coercion, and being persistent in getting help.

Does Kidpower help adults help kids who have experienced bullying, abuse, or other violence?

Yes. As a nonprofit organization, Kidpower is a community based resource available to all adults committed to protecting young people.

We serve not only schools and school districts but also all kinds of businesses, social service agencies, clubs, preschools, camps, and other groups as well as individual parents, counselors, teachers, coaches, therapists, and others seeking guidance in how to protect young people in their care, including those who have or may have experienced bullying.

Providing guidance in advocacy and youth protection skills to adults – including parents as well as professionals in education, health, and social services – for helping kids in their lives who have been bullied is the most effective means through which Kidpower helps kids who have experienced bullying, abuse, violence, and other trauma.

We have a number of success stories about children who tell an adult they trust about bullying after a Kidpower workshop. Because adults are prepared to respond effectively, children are given support – and action was taken, resulting in the children being protected from further harm. See also our article: 5 Recommendations to Help a Child Recover From Severe Bullying.

We offer many paths to youth protection advocacy knowledge and skills for adults, including private consultation, organizational staff training, our parent/child workshops, our workshops for teens, our annual 3-day Child Protection Institute, and Kidpower’s Comprehensive Program and Instructor Training; and of course, our many books, comics, curriculum lessons, and training manuals, including our #1 bestselling book: Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.

"We're concerned about whether teachers find that learning the curriculum feels like yet another task for them.” Do you ever get that sort of feedback?

We have had great feedback from those adults that are implementing the Kidpower skills in their schools and organizations. We have heard the feedback that teachers are already have too much to cover and they don’t have room for one more thing. However, because we have so many options, adaptations and ways to practice these skills, including our Safety Minutes, which are 5 minute lessons, those same teachers soon learned that it was actually very easy to incorporate them into their daily activities. And because so many of the practices help with behavior issues and transition issues within the classroom, implementing these skills will actually save time and frustration overall.

For example, we had one elementary teacher who said she had no time for anything else in class. We asked her, “What is the most frustrating part of your day in the classroom?”  She answered, “Transitions from one activity to the next, such as reading to recess, PE or lunch.”

We asked if we could have 10 minutes to show how we would practice this with the class and how to use our safety signals in the transitions. By the end of the 10 minutes, transitions that used to take 5 or more minutes, we had down to 30 seconds. The kids had a blast practicing and trying to beat their time each practice. We taught them: Awareness power, Mouth Closed power, Hands Down power, and Line Up power, and used these as our cues to the students for what we wanted them to do. The teacher was so impressed she immediately started using these skills and reported a couple months later that she has so much more time now and is not drained at the end of the day from these transitions. In addition, the kids are doing so well with their skills that they are able to handle many peer interaction situations on their own in a positive way and not have to ask the teacher every single time someone does something they do not like. They only go to her when they have tried on their own and need help or if it is a Safety Problem. This would be one of the many things we would cover with teachers and staff at a professional training and would really help to get “buy in” from them on the program.

What resources does Kidpower have to offer?

Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International (Kidpower) is a leading global nonprofit dedicated to providing empowering and effective child protection, positive communication, and personal safety skills for all ages and abilities. Since 1989, Kidpower has protected more than 5.6 million children, teens, and adults, including those with special needs, from child abuse, bullying, sexual assault, and other emotional and physical violence through our workshops, partnerships, and educational resources.

Learn more about:

See these resources pages:

RelationSafe Publications, offering low-cost engaging and comprehensive books, comics, lesson plans, curriculum, and training manuals for adults who want to teach People Safety Skills to the young people in their lives.

For example, the Kidpower Safety Comics series provides age-appropriate and entertaining and useful tools to introduce and discuss People Safety Skills with young children, youth, teens and young adults – including how to be safe with peers, known adults, and strangers.

Kidpower provides in-person and long-distance training and consultation to schools, organizations, and individuals from all over the world.


Walk in Another's Shoes: Teens Speak Out about Bullying

This moving, 5-minute video was created by the Teen Advisory Board of Kidpower of Colorado Springs to inspire all teens and adults to take action. Seeing the faces and hearing the voices of these exceptional young people stating what bullying is and the impact it has had on their lives is tremendously powerful.

Watch the video>>

Bullying Prevention: ABC News Interview

ABC News, View From the Bay

Irene van der Zande, Kidpower’s Founder and Executive Director, talking about Bullying prevention on the ABC News show, View from the Bay.

Watch the video>>

Digital Citizenship: Kidpower Shorts – Episode 2

The second installment of the Kidpower Shorts series focuses on an increasingly important topic — digital citizenship. Most of us are spending a lot more time online working, learning, and socializing, and practicing good digital citizenship can help everyone have a better time on the internet!

Watch the video>>


Kidpower Book Front Cover

Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe

Learn how to use and teach Kidpower self-protection skills and strategies to protect children and teens from bullying at school, home, online social media and gaming, and out in your community.
Learn More | Buy on Amazon
Your Amazon purchases help Kidpower!

Kidpower Child Protection Advocate Workbook

Protect young people from bullying, abuse, violence and other maltreatment through Kidpower’s  intervention, advocacy, and ‘People Safety’ skills for professionals, parents, volunteers, and other caring adults
Learn More | Buy on Amazon
Your Amazon purchases help Kidpower!

Kidpower Safety Comics Front Cover

Kidpower Children’s Safety Comics Color Edition

Now in color! This book answers the question, “How do I teach my kids to be safe with people without scaring them?” Have fun sharing the social stories together with your kids, and they’ll be learning powerful skills. Young children will ask you to read it again and again!
Learn More  |  Buy on Amazon
Your Amazon purchases help Kidpower!

Curriculum Teaching Books Front Covers

Stop Bullying by Taking Charge of Safety (Book 6 of 6)

Book 6 of 6 in our Kidpower Teaching Book Series, designed to make it easy and fun for adults to use our curriculum with their classes, programs, and families, focuses on strategies that can help stop bullying online and in person. Skills include ways to protect themselves, to stay in charge of their own behavior, and to advocate for the safety of other kids.
Learn More | Buy on Amazon
Your Amazon purchases help Kidpower!

Doing Right by Our Kids

The #1 best-selling guide to Child Safety in the #MeToo era. Practical tools for adults to take charge of the safety and well being of the young people in their care, and to address the obstacles that often get in the way.
Learn More | Buy on Amazon
Your Amazon purchases help Kidpower!

Doing Right by Our Kids is a field guide for practicing courage. It will arm you with the knowledge and skills you need to know when, why, and how to act to protect your kids.”

— Dan Heath, New York Times Bestselling Author


Learn Kidpower from the experts! Your choices include:

To take a workshop or arrange your own, visit our Workshops page!

We’re here to answer your questions, suggest resources, and give you more information about how to take or plan a class. Contact us today!

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