Stop bullying where it often starts… the early years.

Photo credit: Brian Hart

Stop bullying where it often starts… the early years.

May 4 is World Anti-Bullying Day, and that's a good reminder to all of us to keep taking bullying seriously AND be on the lookout for behaviors that lead to it, including those that may not seem that serious, like teasing.

Almost everyone has a story to tell about being teased or bullied at school. Each year about one-third of kids worldwide are the target of bullying. In the U.S. alone, 70 percent of young people have witnessed bullying. As a parent, it is always distressing to hear my kid share about a time when he was teased. At the same time, many parents struggle with determining the difference between teasing and bullying behavior. And when to step in and when to let kids work it out.

One of the things that grown-ups and young kids confront is, "what do I do when I'm being bullied or harassed, or see someone who is"? For young kids in particular, that's an important thing to figure out. That's because bullying situations - including behaviors - often emerge in the early years. Whether it's learned behavior from an older sibling, a video game, or the playground, kids need to know how to handle bullying effectively when it happens, and even how to help stop it from taking place.

Bullying usually arises out of an imbalance of power. It can make kids feel distressed and powerless if it isn't addressed. And that's why it's important for us to understand bullying, and the things that lead up to it, early. If we want kids to thrive and grow up to be productive members of their communities, they need to learn positive ways to handle relationships and conflict, at a young age. Unfortunately, ignoring bullying can lead to long-term consequences when kids are older, even into adulthood.

On May 2, Papumba is teaming up with No Bully, a leading San Francisco-based anti-bullying organization, to create the first anti-bullying activity on Papumba Academy subscription app. The learning activity engages kids and adults as they confront common scenarios where bullying happens. Kids are rewarded for making choices that empower them to stop the bullying, support their friends, and turn to adults for help.

Educating kids' minds is important, but building up their hearts to make all kids good global citizens matters just as much.

Download the Papumba Academy app with your kids or students to try out the activity and start important conversations about anti-bullying.