Interventions that have not consistently been found to be helpful in preventing or decreasing bullying include having the bully and victim try to work out their differences in front of a teacher or counselor at school, a supervisor, or human resources staff at work. Rigid rather than firm no tolerance for bullying policies tend to result in overreactions to behaviors that do not constitute bullying. Telling students above the elementary school level to report bullying may lead to increased bullying. Teachers or work supervisors who either directly or indirectly either intimidate students themselves or tolerate such behaviors are an obstacle to implementing an effective anti-bullying school program.
Bullying behavior is a "red flag" that a child has not learned to control his or her aggression. A child who bullies needs counseling to learn healthy ways to interact with people. Professional counseling can guide a child through discovering why bullying is hurtful. Through this process, a counselor can encourage a child to develop empathy, which means being sensitive to and understanding the feelings of others. In some cases, follow-up counseling may involve the parent. Family counseling has been shown to help reduce anger and improve interpersonal relationships in boys who bully. 4
Ask specific questions in a cheerful way that goes beyond: “How was school today?” Kids often don’t want to revisit what happened at school because they are busy with what they are doing now, especially if anything happened that was stressful. Ask a couple of specific questions each day with curiosity rather than anxiety, such as “What games did you play at recess? Did the class guinea pig do anything silly? Did you have art today? Do you have any interesting stories to tell me about what people said or did?”