Stop Bullies Early… Long Before they Enter the Workforce

Stop Bullies Early… Long Before they Enter the Workforce

By Catherine Mattice

Stop_Bullies_When_Theyre_Young.jpgYou already know that bullying happens among children and teens in schools. The real unknown is how to stop it. According to, bullying and cyberbullying happen in four main ways – often repeatedly and in combination:


  • Physical bullying is most often used by boys, and includes hitting, pushing, shoving, kicking, taking a student’s belongings or stealing their money.
  • Relational bullying is most often used by girls, and includes isolating others from their peer group by leaving them out, gossiping, spreading rumors and scapegoating.
  • Verbal bullying is used equally by boys and girls and includes threatening, taunting, intimidating, insulting, sarcasm, name-calling, teasing, slurs, graffiti, put-downs and ridicule.
  • Cyberbullying is used equally by boys and girls, and is any bullying that occurs via technology, including cell-phone, text messages, e-mails, instant messaging, chats and social media.

I’ve been working with for awhile now because we both believe in solving bullying through culture change. Unfortunately culture change requires a whole lot of work and a whole lot of budget, and schools don’t generally have a bunch of money laying around for a major culture shift.

That means it’s up to parents to teach kids how to handle the bullying, and to also ensure their kids don’t become bullies themselves. Kids need to learn social and emotional intelligence – a skill not taught in schools. Kids who are still learning to manage their emotions (heck, many of us adults are learning to manage our emotions!) often bully because they don’t know how else to act out how they feel. Kids are also still figuring out where they sit on the social ladder, and may bully in order to test their boundaries or push themselves up the ladder.

Unfortunately, research has found that kids and teens who bully often bully as adults, and kids and teens who are targeted become lifelong targets. Unfortunately targets learn to be helpless, and this learned behavior never goes away. This research has played out for me as I have received phone calls from adults who complain that they have been bullied at their last three or four jobs.

In the end, it is up to targets to learn to stand up for themselves. But kids need their parents to teach them, and the story of parents who aren’t around because they’re working two jobs, for example, is all too familiar. Without parents around, it’s up to the bystanders to help the target.

Enter the Bystander Revolution, a nonprofit organization hoping to empower kids and teens to stop bullying. October was Bullying Prevention Month, and for all 31 days in October the organization rolled out daily challenges, each centered around one simple act that can help defuse bullying and shift the culture.

Monica Lewinsky supported the project and served as an ambassador. Monica recently popped back up in the media for her TED Talk on shaming and cyberbullying, describing herself as “patient zero” of the cyberbullying epidemic.

So, what are you doing to put a stop to bullying for your kids? And, what are you doing to put a stop to bullying in your workplace?


About the Author

Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice

Catherine M. Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Chevron, the American Red Cross, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on national affiliates of FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and NPR. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released her second book, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

One thought on “Stop Bullies Early… Long Before they Enter the Workforce

  1. Bullying is an epidemic in just about every aspect of our environment; from school to work. I enjoyed your article.
    I actually have a program-DBAV-Don’t Be a Victim. It teaches the participant how to defend and empower themselves as well as how to deal with bullies. this is applicable to adults and children.
    After all, we all get bullied from time to time.
    Keep up the good fight!

Comments are closed.

Learn More About Sterling