As kids head back to school, parents need to be alert to signs of bullying. This may include repeated ‘tummy aches’ to avoid going to school, reticence to discuss school and physical signs of being pushed or hit. Bullying may happen face to face or via social media. It’s imperative that parents ‘school’ their children well in the signs, but more importantly, keep lines of communication open so that in the event bullying is starting, your child feels comfortable discussing it with you. Children who are being bullied often feel shame and are reluctant to talk about the situation. They may feel they’ve created the problem and so need to fix it, especially if the message kids get from parents is ‘be tough’ or ‘ignore the bully’. While the underlying message about ‘standing tall’ may have value, truth is, it may impossible for the child to take these actions. Parents need to listen, support and help the child understand that they are not alone. Bullying can happen at any age, from pre-K through college. Parents, along with teachers and school administrators, should be able to work together to create a safe environment for all children. There are a couple of good websites for more info: http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/bullies.html and http://www.pacer.org/publications/bullypdf/BP-2.pdf
Benita Zahn, DPS-Bioethics
Channel 13 - Benita Zahn
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