How Can We Prevent Bullying in Youth Sports?

A great article on active.com entitled 4 Ways to Prevent Bullying in Youth Sports breaks it down.

Educate Parents. If you suspect your child is being bullied, it's natural to want to confront other parents. But, we all know parents who completely deny their kid's behavior. Education for coaches and parents is important in preventing hurtful and harmful behavior.

Identify Negative Behavior. Bullying isn't always obvious and can be quite subtle. "A team's star player may tease a new, talented teammate. While this might be subtle at first, other children may join in, simply because they want to fit in with their peers." What began as seemingly innocent name-calling escalates into a kid being targeted by the team. Recognizing negative behavior and stopping it before it starts is key to controlling bullying.

Learn the Risk Factors. Anyone can be a bully. Anyone can be a victim. No one is immune, but studies show there are some common risk factors. Bullies tend to be negative and use aggression or intimidation to solve their problems. Did you know that bullying usually starts at home? Again we see children mimicking the behavior of their parents, as we have talked about before, and why it's critical that parents set a positive example.

Encourage Open Communication. Preventing bullying is hard, and many go along with the bully's behavior out of fear or a desire to fit in. Be proactive and put a stop to it before it gets out of hand. Kids who are bullied feel alone and may be scared or embarrassed to talk to to anyone about what's going on. So encourage open and honest communication with your kids. The more you listen, really listen, the more they are likely to talk and that's when you can teach them how to respond to bullying. Bullies need support from their peers, so it can stop before it starts if others refuse to participate. Ask your child's coach or the organization to implement zero-tolerance rules around unacceptable conduct, which can help children to stand up against bullies.

Give Kids Better Options. "Coaches who teach kids to work together by rewarding them for positive performance in group-based activities can unify teams and reduce negative incidents. Coaches and parents can help children overcome bullying by working together to discourage ongoing teasing and establishing a culture of cooperation."

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