search logo

How to handle bullying

Nov. 18, 2019

KS is committed to providing a learning environment free from all types of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying, hazing or violence that may interfere with a student’s ability to learn and enjoy his or her educational experience. If you are a student who has been bullied, a parent of a bullied child, or witness to a bullying incident, please tell a kumu, an administrator, or report it via the KS Hiʻikua Student Helpline.

What is bullying?
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated over time. Bullying can cause many different kinds of harm or distress, including:  physical (hitting, tripping), verbal (name-calling, teasing), or relational/social (spreading rumors, leaving a child out of a group).

Bullying can happen at school or in other settings. It can also take place in the digital world. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting or sharing negative content about someone via text, email or social media apps including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

A 2017 Hawai‘i survey revealed that 40% of middle school and 15% of high school students reported being bullied at school, and that 23% of middle schoolers and 18% of high schoolers reported being cyberbullied.

Warning signs that a a child is being bullied
Bullying increases the risk for depression, anxiety, school avoidance and poor academic achievement in keiki. Not all children who are bullied show warning signs, but some signs that point to a bullying problem are:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomachaches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves or talking about suicide

Why don't kids ask for help?

Despite the startling statistics on bullying, reports that only about 20 to 30 percent of children who are bullied tell an adult. Here are some reasons why:

  • Bullying can make a child feel helpless. Kids may want to handle it on their own to feel in control again. They may fear being seen as weak or a tattletale.
  • Keiki may fear backlash from the kid or kids who bullied them.
  • Bullying can be a humiliating experience. Kids may not want adults to know what is being said about them, whether true or false. They may also fear that adults will judge them or punish them for being weak.
  • Kids who are bullied may already feel socially isolated. They may feel like no one cares or would understand.
  • Children may fear being rejected by their peers. Friends can help protect them from bullying, and kids can fear losing their support.

How adults can help
It is the child’s story. Let him or her tell it. They may be in emotional pain about the way they are being treated.

Believe. The knowledge that a child is being bullied can raise many emotions. To be an effective advocate, adults need to react in a way that encourages the child to trust.

Be supportive. Tell the child it is not his fault and that he does not deserve to be bullied. Empower the keiki by telling her how terrific she is. Avoid judgmental comments about the child or bully.

Be patient. A child may not be ready to open up right away. Talking about the bullying can be difficult because the he or she may be feeling frightened or ashamed.

Provide information. Teach your child about bullying by providing information at a level that your keiki can understand.


How to talk to your children about bullying

Preventing bullying
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Bullying prevention resources for families and educators
National Association of School Psychologists

Tips on mobile and online safety
PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center

What kids can do about bullying

8 things kids can do if they see bullying
Very Well Health

bullying, malama ola minute

Themes, Culture, Community, Malama Ola Minute, Newsroom, Campus Programs, Malama Ola, Hawaii, Kapalama, Maui, Health and Wellness

Kawaiaha‘o Plaza

567 South King St
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 523-6200

KS Hawai‘i

16-716 Volcano Rd
Kea‘au, HI 96749
(808) 982-0000

KS Kapālama

1887 Makuakāne St
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 842-8211

KS Maui

275 ‘A‘apueo Pkwy
Pukalani, HI 96768
(808) 572-3100