One area that I'd like to call attention to in many bullying situations is the bystander. Bystanders' actions make a significant difference in the outcome of a bullying situation.
More than one-half the time, bullying stops within 10 seconds of a bystander stepping in to help.(Craig, W. M. & Pepler, D. (1997). Observations of bullying and victimization in the school yard. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 13(2): 41–60.)
Stepping in isn't always safe or practical, and it's not the only way to help. Another way bystanders can be useful is to get help--either by gathering peers for support, or reporting the bullying to an adult who will intervene.
Things that do not help are:
Instigating by teasing or prodding a bully to do something.
Encouraging the bully by laughing, cheering, or teasing the bully to continue.
Joining in on the bullying.
Passively accepting by watching and doing nothing.
Talk to your child about how to be a helpful bystander. Sometimes, a comment will do the trick--reminding someone of the class or school rule, or inviting them to come sit by you. Other times, that isn't safe for the bystander, and he or she should go get a trusted adult to help.
Ask your child to think about a time when he or she saw something happening that was hurtful to someone else, either physically or emotionally. What did s/he do? Is there something else s/he wished s/he would have done? Is the situation still going on? If so, what should s/he do now?
If you are concerned for your or another child's safety, call the school to discuss the situation with the teacher, counselor, or principal. Though they often will not be able to tell you about specific disciplinary actions taken against another student, they can share general information about policies and procedures, and you can share information that you have to help them keep a watchful eye out and keep our children safe.
Sometimes, this takes courage. Talk to your child about this, too. According to the Virtues Project, "Courage is bravery in the face of fear. You do the right thing even when it is hard or scary. When you are courageous, you don't give up. You try new things. You admit mistakes. Courage is the strength in your heart."
Be courageous and teach your child to be, too. There are lots of ways to help stop bullying. Being a helpful bystander is one.