Friday, August 7, 2009

Help- they are hurting me...

School is just about to start.. Will your child be the one who is picked on?

We all remember the school yard bully, and most children will have this type of experience growing up. However, bullying can be a very serious problem, and one that very often gets overlooked.  This is one of those situations that we often chalk up to being a part of growing up, but bullying is actually a very serious problem that can lead to long term physical and emotional harm for our kids.

Bullying isn't the same as getting in an argument or fight. Bullying is an intentional and aggressive behavior that is repeated over time. It can be anything from physical aggression, to verbal abuse, to sending threatening email messages. Now, while school violence has decrease over the past several years, bullying has actually increased. Children who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, feel sick, miss school and have thoughts of suicide.

So here are some general dos and don'ts you can use if your child is being bullied.

The don'ts:

Don't tell your child to ignore the situation, because often they interpret that as you not taking it seriously, and they are less likely to come back and tell you if the situation gets worse.

Don't assume your child said or did something to set off the situation.

Don't encourage retaliation; more often than not it will just make the problem worse.

Don't' contact the parents of the bully. This is a natural instinct but very often it can lead to miscommunication and further bullying of your child.

The dos:

Learn as much as you can about the situation from your child. So get names, dates, times, locations.

Praise your child for being brave enough to talk to you about it.

Keep your emotions in check- it's very natural to want to retaliate yourself, but you need to stop, collect your thoughts and then proceed.

Contact your child's teacher or principal. If the bullying is occurring at school it is only going to stop if the school is involved.

Finally, give your child strategies for being safe. Talk to them about going to an adult if they feel threatened.

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