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15+ Make Time to Listen - Take Time to Talk...About Bullying

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Did you know that research has found that remarkable things can happen if parents and caregivers spent at least 15 minutes of undivided time a day listening and talking with their children? Research also tells us that children really do look to their parents and caregivers for advice and help about difficult choices and decisions.

The document in your hands right now and other companion materials about bullying are part of 15+ Make Time to Listen...Take Time to Talk, an Initiative developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to promote healthy child development and to prevent youth and school-based violence.

The initiative builds on both the value children place on the advice they get from important adults in their lives and the benefits of those special 15 minutes each day. The listening and talking theme, however, also can be adapted by teachers, counselors, and other adults who are involved in the lives and futures of children.

Whether focused on bullying - as in this part of the Initiative - or on general principles of healthy development and behavior, the messages exchanged between children and their parents and caregivers in just these 15 minutes or more a day, can be instrumental in building a healthier and safer future for children as individuals, family members, and active and engaged participants in the life of their communities.

Welcome to "Make Time To Listen...Take Time To Talk...ABOUT BULLYING"

This document consists of interactive questions to start conversations between parents/caregivers and children. Schools, adults and children can use these questions to start conversations about bullying and how to prevent it.

There are no "right or wrong" answers, just statements that make us think about the issue of bullying and ways to prevent and/or stop it. The questions are listed under different headings so that there is flexibility in how the questions can be asked to lead to meaningful dialogue about bullying prevention and interventions. The basis of the conversation starter questions are to help start meaningful dialogue about the critical issue of bullying and the prevention of bullying.

There are no rules. Everyone is a winner if we begin to talk and listen to one another, but you can't be a winner if you don't answer the questions honestly. No one is looking for problems, but if bullying is an issue at school, home, or in your community, then this is a safe way to start to understand and hopefully resolve the problem.

Go ahead, get started and remember that these are only some questions to start conversations and you don't have to finish all the questions to continue talking. Use your own judgement on how many questions to ask, when, and for how long. If you or your child feels uncomfortable talking about the issue, you may choose to stop for a while and continue the discussion at a later time. If major problems do arise, please seek the help of a mental health professional.

Listen - Learn - Respect

These questions are to be used to start conversations about bullying and bullying prevention. Feel free to adapt the questions to your own conversational styles. The questions are designed to generate open and honest discussions. Please be careful to respect any concerns or sensitive issues raised by the answers. Again, if problems do arise, please read the additional materials provided by this project, take a break and talk about the issue later, or seek the help of a mental health professional.

General Questions

  • What does "bullying" mean to you?
  • Do you ever feel lonely at school or left out of activities? Let's talk about what happens and what you feel.
  • What is lunch time like at your school?
  • Who do you sit with, what do you do, and what do you talk about?
  • What's it like to ride the school bus? Tell me about it.
  • Do kids ever call you mean names, or tease you?
  • Talk more about how you feel and what you do when this happens.
  • Have you ever been scared to go to school because you were afraid of being bullied?
  • What ways have you tried to change it?
  • Have kids ever bullied you by hitting or pushing you, or other things like that?
  • Let's talk about what you do when this happens.

Ask these questions if there is an indication that a child may have been bullied...

  • Who usually does the bullying? (Boys/girls?) (Older kids or kids in your grade or class?)
  • Why do you think they bully?
  • Did you talk with an adult at school or a friend about being bullied? Did it help? If not, what would have helped?
  • Talk about how you felt when you were being bullied. Take your time.
  • Now that we're talking about bullying, what can I do to help?

Ask these questions if someone has witnessed bullying...

  • What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
  • Describe what the bullies are like.
  • Do you ever see kids at your school being bullied by other kids?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • Have you ever tried to help someone who was being bullied? What happened?
  • What would you do if it happens again?
  • Have you ever called another person names?
  • Do you think that was bullying? Talk more about that.
  • Do you or your friends ever leave other kids out of activities?
  • Talk more about this possible bullying behavior.

Ask these questions to discuss bullying prevention programs...

  • What do you think needs to happen at school to stop bullying?
  • Would you be willing to tell someone if you had been bullied? Why? Why not?
  • Is your school doing special things to try and prevent bullying?
  • If so, tell me about the school's rules and programs against bullying.
  • Would you feel like a "tattletale" if you told that someone was bullying you or a friend? Why?
  • Let's talk about what your friends could do to help stop the bullying.
  • What things do you think parents could/should do to help stop bullying?
  • What are some good qualities about yourself?
  • Let's talk about why it's so important to feel good about yourself.
  • How would all this help to prevent bullying?


As stated above, the following questions are part of the original "15+ Make Time To Listen... Take Time to Talk" Initiative. The questions were designed to be used as a part of a "win-win" game where everyone gets a chance to LISTEN and TALK. The basis of the game is to get to know more about your family, friends, and caregivers by honestly answering the questions and carefully listening to the replies. There are no rules since everyone is a winner. However, you can only be a winner if you honestly answer the questions, take a chance on opening true conversations and REALLY LISTENING to responses.

Go ahead, get started, and remember that these are only questions to get conversations started and, like the bullying questions, you do not have to finish all the questions to continue talking.


  • What was the best thing that happened to you today?
  • What do you love about school/work?
  • What does success mean to you?
  • What makes you scared?
  • What do you remember about your first day at school/work?
  • What three things make a person popular in your school/at work?
  • What makes you laugh?
  • Why do you think some kids/adults dress differently?
  • Talk more about this.
  • What makes you angry?
  • Where would you go if you could travel anywhere in the world? Why?
  • What's a skill you wish you had? Why?
  • What one thing would you do to make the world more peaceful?
  • If you could go back in time and live in any era, what would it be? Why?
  • Do you like being challenged? How?
  • How can we stop violence?
  • What other cultures interest you? Why?
  • If you could share anything with your best friend, what would it be? Why?
  • If you could write a book, what kind of book would it be? Why?
  • If you could sit down with the most powerful person in the world and give that person advice, what would that be?
  • Do you learn more when you win or when you lose? Tell me more.
  • If you could do one thing to make the earth cleaner and more livable, what would it be? Why?
  • A blank coupon - you decide what to talk about.

printed 2003

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