Be an Upstander

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In order to prevent bullying on a bigger scale, we need to teach our kids to be an upstander and what that means.

be an upstander

Bullying in it’s many shapes and forms is heartbreaking. We’d like to think that we can send our kids off into the world (as hard as it is anyway) without unnecessary unkindness plaguing them. The challenge of bullying is that we may not often know about it. Kids are embarrassed and worried that if a parent knows and takes action, it will make it worse for them. Some authority figures don’t always make the moves we hope, and it can be frustrating. On my Instagram @KristenDukeChats we spent a week talking about bullying in the community and I wanted to share along with the podcast episode of Beyond Good Intentions all about it. (Follow over there to see each weekly topic we discuss and share your experiences as well).

Prevent Bullying

A big part of preventing bullying is that we can teach our kids to be an upstander instead of a bystander. Are we having those conversations in our how for what to do in certain scenarios? Do they feel confident enough to help stop bullying if they see it? I’m sharing some tips in this post to help open that line of communication with your teens.

Types of Bullying

Depending on where you look, there are different types of bullying defined. I feel like the types of bullying fall into these 3 main categories:

  • Physical Bullying–most obvious and easiest to identify including kicking, hitting, punching
  • Verbal Bullying–name calling, belittling, demeaning, often when adults aren’t around so hard to tell one word from another. I don’t like “just joking” (cutting sarcasm) and I go into this on Instagram.
  • Covert Bullying– under handed silent bullying. Hand gestures, not letting someone sit at your lunch table.
  • Cyber Bullying–using technology to threaten, harass, embarrass, or target another person through images, texts, or messages online. (Can also be sexual bullying or prejudicial bullying)

imagine a world where the words you speak appear on your skin

How to talk to kids about Bullying

Each week after the podcast and after the discussion on Instagram, I hope to have a shareable blog post (THIS!) and free printable that will help us all talk to our kids (or remind ourselves) about the topic of the week. Something to print and hang somewhere to remind us to do better, to be better.

Ask your teens these questions:

  1. Do you know what it means to be an upstander? A Bystander?
  2. How do you define bullying? Do you know the types of bullying?
  3. Have you seen bullying? Repeated unkindness? Did you tell anyone?
  4. Have you experienced bullying at school? Unkindness?
  5. Would you like to hear how I was treated unkindly/bullied when I was your age?
  6. Do you think sarcasm is considered bullying?

Download this weeks bullying discussion points printable here:

Bullying vs. Unkindness

The word “bully” often gets thrown around and maybe overused. Because of that, maybe some authority figures don’t always take bullying so seriously. We need to teach our kids the difference. The definition of bullying has two words to remember:


Sometimes there is simply unkindness, and it doesn’t happen again. With that, we aim to teach our kids resilience and to turn the other cheek and to “kill them with kindness.” Agressive is also defined differently with different people. Most see bullying as physical, but there are many different types of bullying.

Whether it is official bullying or unkindness, I like to remind my children that if someone is being unkind for whatever reason, it is likely because someone was unkind to them and taught them that behavior. It can help soften our hearts a little when we look into the “why.”

Podcast on Bullying

In the Beyond Good Intentions parenting podcast, I had the opportunity to interview Amber Rollins from @TeenTake30 and she shared a number of wonderful resources we can look to in order to learn more about bullying and learn to become an upstander. Their family was deeply affected by this on such a large scale that they chose to move their family to a new home in a new neighborhood to feel safe.
Listen to the interview by hitting PLAY below to listen here on the website, or on iTunes/Spotify/Google Play.

Feel free to PIN this image of Amber to remind you to listen to the episode or share it with others!

how to prevent bullying

Here are a few key points from our conversation:

  • Half of bullying is stoped within 10 seconds if someone steps in. Be an upstander and report what you saw.
  • Validate your kids feelings if they felt bullied so they will trust you with more information.
  • Act on that information, either within your home or to an authority (principal).
  • Go to for more resources such as tools, info, and statistics.
  • for prevention tips
  • Encourage teens to take 30 minutes a day for service, meditation, and practice gratitude for their mental health (see more at )
  • 10 Minute parent check in’s to learn how you can best support your teens
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