How to Vanquish a Bully

Almost 50 percent of kids experience some sort of bullying from fourth through 12th grades, which can lead to isolation, depression, and anxiety. Don’t let your little one become a victim: Bid adieu to those playground menaces and cyber-tormenters with help from Lexington-based child psychologist Anthony Rao.

how to vanquish a bully

Illustration by Tommy White

Know the signs.

Bullied kids might narrow their social circles, change their eating or sleeping patterns, exhibit aggression, and, in rarer circumstances, harm themselves. “Parents should look out for sudden emotional changes lasting more than a day or so,” Rao says.


“The substantial rise in bullying is cyber-related,” Rao says. So don’t be shy about “pulling [kids] off apps, gaming sites, or any media where there’s hostility.”

Foster positive relationships.

Seek out smaller, supportive peer groups—think activities like martial arts and ultimate Frisbee. “[They] promote self-confidence in settings that respect individual differences,” Rao explains.

Seek help.

“If you feel the bullying won’t stop without intervening, then you should call other parents or contact the school,” Rao suggests. “Whatever you do, don’t remain silent or avoidant. Bullying spreads in mediums of secrecy and shame.”