Parenting and bullying

By Dru Ahlborg
Co-Founder and Executive Director of Bullying Recovery Resource Center (BRRC)

Bullying Recovery Resource Center (BRRC) is a Denver-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the resources, education and advocacy needed to stop bullying and stem the long-term effects bullying has on its targets. We empower families across Colorado to defend their bullied child and hold the school responsible to stop the bullying.

According to, “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.” According to the 2019 National Bureau of Educational Statistics, nationwide about 22% of students between 12-18 experience bullying. Closer to home, The Cyberbullying Research Center reports that in 2019 in Colorado 65.8% of youth stated they have been bullied in the last 30 days. (That is up almost 15% in three years.) This is a harrowing problem that can create trauma and negative impacts for everyone involved which includes the target, the child engaging in bullying acts, the bystander and the family of the bullying target. 

As a professional in the trenches of bullying there are three notable items the bear mentioning:

Bullying must be STOPPED. It is not negotiated, and not dealt with using conflict resolution tactics. 

For an event to be bullying, there is always an exploitation of an imbalance of power. Asking a target of bullying and the aggressor to shake hands and move on isn’t appropriate. We certainly wouldn’t ask an adult who was assaulted to just move on. The needs of all the children involved need to be addressed and the aggressor should have a reasonable consequence for their action.

If your child shares with you they are being bullied, drop everything and listen. 

A child’s job is to attend school and to be successful in that endeavor. That includes academic grades, sports, social status and friendships. Failing at one or more of these can be absolutely humiliating. It is often challenging for a child to verbalize they are being bullied. Listening is key and asking open-ended, non-judgmental questions is suggested. Be aware that very often a young person will share just a part of the humiliation they are going through. We advise that parents stay calm and together come up with steps to work through it. It is important to let your child know they did nothing wrong and it is not acceptable that they are being bullied.

Upstanders. Become one. Teach and coach your child to become one. Acknowledge those who are an upstander.

The dictionary defines an upstander as “a person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied.”

Upstanders save lives. Bullying stops within 20 seconds, 57% of the time when someone acts on behalf of the person being bullied. Being an upstander includes intervening during a bullying event and also showing care and support to the bullying target after the event. Reporting bullying as a witness is the act of an upstander. Adults who implement these behaviors and talk to their children about them will help raise children who are willing to take a stand and defend others.

If your child is being bullied and the school isn’t taking any or the appropriate action to stop it, please contact us. No child ever deserves to be bullied. 

We stop bullying today to start recovery tomorrow.