A Nurse Practitioners Note on Bullying

Michael Ann Vaughn is a graduate of the University of Washington’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program, specializing in Pediatric Primary Care. She completed the LEND Fellowship (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) through UW to focus on her passion for working with children who have ASD and neurodevelopmental disorders. She earned her BSN from Montana State University in Missoula, MT. Her nursing experience includes working at Valley Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

She is excited about the opportunity primary care offers to improve the health and lives of children and their families by providing support, resources and medical attention.

Talking with your child about bullying can help them be prepared and know how to respond in a situation. Bullying can occur in the following forms:

  • Physical
  • Verbal
  • Social
  • or Electronic

Being bullied increases risks of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicide
  • Substance Abuse
  • Violence
  • Academic Performance

How can parents help prevent or stop bullying?

  • Talk to your child about bullying before it becomes and issue. Help them think through how they will respond in different situations. 
  • Tell children if they experience or witness bullying, always report it to an adult. Children who are bullied may feel embarrassed and may not want to admit they’re being bullied. 
  • Model respectful and kind behavior as much as possible. 
  • Anytime you witness bullying, respond in a quick and consistent manner to demonstrate bullying is not ok. 

How a child should respond to bullying:

  • Keep calm, try not to show emotion, walk away, tell an adult. 
  • If the child must respond  to the child bullying them: stay calm, stand tall, try not to show emotion, and use a strong voice for a clear statement, “I don’t like what you are doing.”

My child told me they are being bullied, now what?

  •  Listen to your child, help them feel heard, assure them it is not their fault.

  • Work together with your child, teachers, and school administrators to develop a plan that can help the child feel safe.

  • Find a mediator between parents, usually a school employee. 

  • Work to build up your child’s self-esteem by encouraging your child to praise themselves for things they can be proud of. 

  • Consider seeing a healthcare provider or mental health counselor to determine if additional action is needed 


Questions? Children who bully others, children who are bullied, and children who witness bullying are all impacted and in need of some guidance on how to develop appropriate skills that will benefit them throughout life. Being informed gives you better tools to help your child. 



1. StopBullying.gov. Bullying. https://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html Updated July 26, 2018. Accessed October 22, 2018. 

2. HealthyChildren.org. Bullying: It’s Not Okay. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Bullying-Its-Not-Ok.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed October 22, 2018. 

3. HealthyKids. Dealing with Bullies. https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/bullies.html. Updated July 2013. Accessed October 22, 2018. 

4. Mayo Clinic. Bullying: Help Your Child Handle a Bully. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/bullying/art-20044918. Updated August 26, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2018. 

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