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  • Lisa Dixon-Wells, M.Ed., Founder and Executive Director

These six skills can help bully-proof children for life.

According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, one third of young people worldwide are bullied. That number is even more troubling when you consider that it’s not just the targets of bullying who are affected. Both targets and bystanders can feel helpless, distressed, and afraid to make bullying incidents worse. Dare to Care modules for students empower targets of bullying and bystanders by giving them a proven toolbox of skills. Not only are these go-to strategies for bullying situations; they are life skills that can help children address normal conflict and the many challenging interpersonal interactions we all face over the course of our lives.

We begin teaching these skills in our Grade 3-4 modules, we repeat them with Grade 5-6 students, and we make them memorable for all with the pneumonic HA-HA-SO. This classroom poster, available for download with our annual program license, shows what the letters of the pneumonic stand for:

In brief, the skills are:

Help – We teach children to ask for help from an adult in a way that won’t be mistaken for tattling. There are four steps.

Assert Yourself – We give children specific tips to help them stand up for themselves without escalating the situation or giving the bully the emotional reaction they seek.

Humor – This skill isn’t for everyone, but children who have the knack may be able to de-escalate a situation by making a joke about what a bully has said.

Avoid – When possible, we suggest children avoid places where they suspect bullying behavior is likely to occur. If an encounter happens anyway, we explain how to walk away with dignity.

Self-Talk – We encourage children to practice silent self-affirmations after a stressful encounter. Children and adults who master this habit are far more resilient.

Own It – We explain that acknowledging any bit of truth in a bully’s comment often has the power to diffuse the situation and gain the empathy and respect of bystanders.

Of course, new skills must be practiced before children can use them confidently, especially in stressful moments. After we have walked children through each new skill, providing clear examples of how to use them effectively, our role-playing exercise helps to anchor the learning. I invite you to watch an excerpt from our program where I explain the ground rules of the role play:

For questions about our virtual bullying prevention program and pricing, reach out to me at

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