Committee for Children Blog

Why Solidarity Is Key in Bullying Prevention

Recent reports show that one out of five students report being bullied during the school year. Most often, these children are bullied because of reasons related to their identities, such as their physical appearance, race or ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, or sexual orientation.

Like all forms of bullying, bullying motivated by race or ethnicity can feel like an insurmountable issue that permeates throughout children’s schools and into the broader community. As we’ll see in the 2022 Captain Compassion® comics (forthcoming September 27), the effects of this type of bullying can hang over children like smog, negatively affecting the school’s climate and students’ long-term success. In fact, research shows that children who bully, children who witness bullying, and children who are victims of bullying all experience long-term negative health consequences.1 These can range from higher risk of mental health problems like depression and anxiety to higher risk for getting into fights, skipping school, and doing poorly academically.1,2

With student safety and success on the line, educators, parents, and other adults who care for children can take steps to help prevent racially motivated bullying. The key may lie in developing the community’s sense of solidarity on this issue: a community’s resolve to collectively stand against bullying. Research shows that the best approach to bullying prevention is a comprehensive effort that addresses factors at the school, staff, and child level.3 In other words, each person in a child’s life has an important role to play in preventing racially motivated bullying, helping students make responsible decisions, and fostering a positive school climate. We’ll see this in the 2022 comics when Captain Compassion reminds our heroes that “it will take every one of us to prevent racially motivated bullying and create a kinder, safer world.”

To foster youth solidarity in order to prevent racially motivated bullying, parents, educators, and other adults who care for children can focus on growing children’s life skills. Adults can teach children how to identify various forms of bullying, encourage positive norms, and teach skills like empathy, emotion regulation, assertiveness, and friendship building.4 In the 2022 Captain Compassion comics, our heroes illustrate this by joining together to activate their peers’ upstander power to prevent racially motivating bullying. They not only show their classmates how to recognize bullying, refuse to participate in bullying, and report the bullying to a trusted adult, but they also show their peers the detrimental impact bullying can have on others’ well-being. By teaching these skills, too, school communities can improve student social competence, create positive student and staff responses to bullying, and improve overall school climate while reducing bullying among students.5

Here are five life skills that parents, educators, and other adults can foster in youth to increase their solidarity against bullying.


One of the foundational skills of bullying prevention and for fostering youth solidarity is building children’s empathy for one another. We’ll see this in a key moment of the Captain Compassion comics when our heroes help a child who bullies practice empathy. Developing children’s skills for empathy helps foster youth solidarity by teaching them to treat others with kindness and respect, and it also makes witnesses of bullying more likely to intervene if bullying occurs.6,7 Research shows that when upstanders intervene in bullying, it can reduce future instances of bullying by more than 50 percent.8

Emotion Regulation

Emotion regulation is a life skill that helps children recognize strong emotions and respond to those emotions in a productive way. Developing this skill can help children make more responsible decisions in high-stress situations like bullying, rather than reacting in a way that may exacerbate the issue. Research has shown that good emotion-management skills not only prevent children from becoming victims of bullying, but they also help students respond to it more effectively.9

Social Problem-Solving

Good problem-solvers have developed the skills to recognize problems, reflect on possible solutions, and understand consequences to a particular action. Children who have learned how to apply this life skill to social contexts can manage peer challenges and respond in thoughtful ways. This makes them especially adept at helping deescalate the conflict in bullying scenarios.10 We’ll see this illustrated in the 2022 Captain Compassion comics when our heroes witness racially motivated bullying and step in to collectively deescalate the situation.

Friendship Building

Friendships are a foundational aspect to building youth solidarity and preventing bullying. In fact, students who have at least one friend are less likely to be bullied, and bullied students with at least one good friend experience less subsequent bullying and fewer emotional and behavioral problems.11,12 In the words of Captain Compassion, “You and your friends are strongest when you work together. Make sure you look out for others if you see bullying happen.”

It will take all of us joining together in solidarity to reduce occurrences of this complex social issue, but if families can access research-based tools like Captain Compassion comics, they will be better able to help move us closer to a kinder, safer world free from all forms of bullying.


1. National Institute of Child and Health and Human Development. (2001). Bullying widespread in US schools, survey finds. Retrieved from

2. National Crime Prevention Council. (2012). Bullying. Retrieved from

3. Smith, B. H., & Low, S. (2013). The role of social-emotional learning in bullying prevention efforts. Theory Into Practice, 52(4), 280–287.

4. Frey, K. S., Hirschstein, M. K., Snell, J. L., Edstrom, L. V., MacKenzie, E. P., & Broderick, C. J. (2005). Reducing playground bullying and supporting beliefs: An experimental trial of the Steps to Respect program. Developmental Psychology, 41, 479–490.

5. Brown, E. C., Low, S., Smith, B. H., & Haggerty, K. P. (2011). Outcomes from a school-randomized controlled trial of Steps to Respect: A bullying prevention program. School Psychology Review, 40, 423–443.

6. Nickerson, A. B., Mele, D., & Princiotta, D. (2008). Attachment and empathy as predictors of roles as defenders or outsiders in bullying interactions. Journal of School Psychology, 46(6), 687–703.

7. Rigby, K., & Johnson, B. (2006, September 1). Playground heroes: Who can stop bullying? Greater Good Magazine.

8. Hawkins, D. L., Pepler, D. J., & Craig, W. M. (2001). Naturalistic observations of peer interventions in bullying. Social Development, 10(4), 512–527.

9. Cook, C. R., Williams, K. R., Guerra, N. G., Kim, T. E., & Sadek, S. (2010). Predictors of bullying and victimization in childhood and adolescence: A meta-analytic investigation. School Psychology Quarterly, 25, 65–83.

10. Mahady Wilton, M. M., Craig, W. M., & Pepler, D. J. (2000). Emotional regulation and display in classroom victims of bullying: Characteristic expressions of affect, coping styles and relevant contextual factors. Social Development, 9(2), 226–245.

11. Goldbaum, S., Craig, W. M., Pepler, D., & Connolly, J. (2007). Developmental trajectories of victimization: Identifying risk and protective factors. In J. E. Zins, M. J. Elias, & C. A. Maher (Eds.), Bullying, victimization, and peer harassment: A handbook of prevention and intervention (pp. 143–160). Haworth Press.

12. Hodges, E. V. E., Boivin, M., Vitaro, F., & Bukowski, W. M. (1999). The power of friendship: Protection against an escalating cycle of peer victimization. Developmental Psychology, 35(1), 94–101.