October is National Bullying Prevention Month. While there are many good ways we can address bullying with the kids and teens in our lives, this month we’re going to focus on just one strategy related to Camp Fire’s expertise that can make a difference in bullying prevention: Conflict Resolution.

Camp Fire youth are on the front lines of the fight against bullying every day. This is why we believe in giving kids and teens the tools to de-escalate, manage and prevent conflict conflict—with help and guidance from the adults in their lives, of course.

In fact, research shows that when kids step in to intervene, they can stop more than half of bullying situations on their own.

And youth who are bullied say that having their peers step in is more helpful than handling it on their own or enlisting adult assistance.

Bullying is a serious problem that absolutely requires adult attention and intervention. But we can add some kid power to that adult wisdom: We can teach teens and kids conflict resolution skills, such as how to identify and manage their emotions, differentiate between aggression and assertiveness, and brainstorm solutions.

Bullying situations are still way too common. Roughly 20% of high school students say they are bullied at school, and the majority of students never report the bullying. Those rates go up for students of color (24.7% for African American students), students who are heavier (around 60%) and students who identify as LGBT (74.1%).

Bullying effects are severe and long-lasting. Kids who are bullied have more trouble with:

  • Sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Adjusting at school

The bullies themselves have their own problems. Kids who bully others have more problems with:

  • Academics
  • Substance abuse
  • Violent behavior

True to our spirit of innovation and expertise in youth development, Camp Fire began developing its own Conflict Resolution program in 2011. No matter your age, try these 11 tips for more positive interactions and smoother resolutions at home, at school, or at work!

conflict resolution Camp Fire

“Raise your thoughts, not your fists.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

  1. Check yourself: Do you need time for your emotions to settle? Are you hungry, tired, stressed or sick? Give yourself time to cool off and treat your triggers before going into a hard conversation.
  2. Reflect: Take time to think about what you’d really like to happen. What do you want the outcome to be? How do you want the conversation to go?
  3. Go to the source. Talk to the person (or people) you’ve got a problem with directly. Don’t just talk to others about it, or about the other person.
  4. Stick to first-person. Use “I statements” to describe the conflict. “I feel like X…”
  5. Absolutely no absolutes. Avoid words like “always” and “never.” Keep it about what is happening now and how you feel about it.
  6. Really listen. What are people really saying with their words, actions and body language? Read between the lines to gather more information.
  7. Respect. Treat them as you want to be treated. Try to stay calm, kind, and choose your words wisely.
  8. Take ownership for your part. Apologize if you need to. Usually in conflicts, we all have something we could have done better. It takes great strength and bravery to admit your part.
  9. Get perspective. Investigate other points of view besides your own. Why do they feel the way they do? Why do they think that? Try to see if from their perspective.
  10. Be creative. Work together to brainstorm win-win solutions and for a positive outcome.
  11. Reflect again. End the conversation by discussing what you learned from the conflict, the conversation, and what you can each do differently or better in the future.


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