It’s never easy to talk about tough topics like bullying. But when we address them head-on and bring them out into the open, we have a better chance at preventing bully behavior and helping the victims. Here’s how to make National Bullying Prevention Month 2023 a time for meaningful action.
NOTE: While all kids are mean to one another from time to time, bullying is a persistent pattern of behavior, meant to emphasize a power imbalance and hurt the victim. Learn the differences between bullying and other forms of conflict here.
When is National Bullying Prevention Month 2023?
National Bullying Prevention Month takes place each year in October. To kick it off, October 2, 2023, is the 17th annual World Day of Bullying Prevention. Organizations like Stomp Out Bullying sponsor special events on this day to help spread the word. October 18, 2023, is Unity Day, a time to unite for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.
What is Bullying Prevention Month?
Though schools should focus on creating an anti-bullying culture year-round, October has been set aside as a time to draw special attention to this important issue. A variety of organizations come together to support schools as they work to create a safer, kinder environment for all students.
Bullying may include in-person or online behavior (known as cyberbullying). It’s become a major issue in schools, where 1 in 5 students now report experiencing bullying behavior. Students may be bullied for their physical appearance, race/ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, or sexual orientation, among other reasons.
The good news is that research indicates that strong bullying prevention programs can help reduce bullying at school. These programs can help potential bullies recognize and stop their own behavior. They can also empower victims, giving them the support they need in the face of bullying.
History of Bullying Prevention Month
In 2006, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center declared the first week of October a time to educate and raise awareness about bullying prevention. Their goal was to change the prevalent view that bullying was just a childhood rite of passage, something every kid had to go through. They pointed out that bullying raises school absentee rates, decreases student performance, and increases physical and mental stress. The center argued that teachers and families needed to work together to create a climate where bullying was not tolerated.
After much success, the event was expanded to the entire month of October starting in 2010. Since then, bullying prevention events during October have included fundraisers, Disney-produced public service announcements, celebrity partnerships, and much more. The month also includes Unity Day, a time to send a visible message that no child should ever have to endure bullying. This year, Unity Day will be held on October 18, 2023.
2023 Bullying Prevention Month Activities and Ideas
Try these methods to reach students, families, and the wider community!
Read an anti-bullying book
Kids at any grade or reading level can learn more about bullying and prevention by reading. Share a picture book during story time, or urge older kids to read a novel with an anti-bullying message and share their thoughts. Find our favorite picks for every age here.
Start a bullying prevention program
If your school doesn’t have an anti-bullying program in place yet, October is the month to start one. We’ve got all the information and tips you need to make it a success right here.
Watch an anti-bullying video
Share these videos during an assembly, followed by in-class conversations about the points they raise. We’ve got a big selection of videos appropriate for kids in grades pre-K through high school here.
Create student upstanders
Look for student leaders who can take active roles in creating a positive and supportive culture at your school. They can help others learn to become upstanders: people who not only avoid bullying others but know when and how to stand up for victims safely. Learn more from Stomp Out Bullying.
Decorate the school with anti-bullying messages
Use our collection of free printable kindness posters, or buy anti-bullying decor on Amazon. Even better, encourage students to create their own posters, banners, and other artwork to send a strong message about your school’s anti-bullying culture. Try holding an anti-bullying poster contest!
Grab the National Bullying Prevention Month student activity kit
PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center has created a whole month-long anti-bullying unit you can use with kids in any grade. This free printable kit includes lesson plans and activity ideas, differentiated for students at all levels. Get the kit here.
Participate in Unity Day
Join the nationwide movement on October 18 to show the world that your school is a place for acceptance, kindness, and inclusion. Encourage all students to wear orange that day, and plan lots of bullying prevention activities for all. Get lots of Unity Day resources and ideas here.
Take an anti-bullying pledge
Encourage all students to sign a declaration like the Kids Against Bullying pledge. Make it meaningful by talking about what it means to be a bully vs. an upstander, and encourage kids to live their pledge daily.
Send home a flyer
Help families get involved with this ready-to-go flyer from the National Bullying Prevention Center. Include it in your school newsletter, post it on your website, or send copies home with students.
Spread the message on social media
Let others know that October is a time to raise awareness of bullying prevention. Post concrete actions people can take to help stop bullying in their schools and communities. Find messages created just for social media feeds at the National Bullying Prevention Center.