Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Protecting Your Kids Against Bullying

It’s a horrible fact of life in high school, middle school and elementary school – your kids are susceptible to the torments of bullies. It can happen to just about any kid for any number of reasons. A single bully could be the problem or an entire group could pick on a peer.

Schools are a common place where bullying occurs, but it is by no means the only one. Today, your kid’s bully doesn’t even have to be in the same room to cause trouble. They can go online and continue to harass your child through social media sites, or even via the phone through text messaging.

Bullying is a serious social issue that can have dire repercussions if it’s allowed to continue. If your kid is being bullied there are things you need to know and actions you can take to put an end to it.

Is Bullying on the Rise?

Media coverage of the issue has been at the forefront the last few years, but does that mean bullying is more rampant than it use to be? Recent reports suggest that traditional bullying is by no means non-existent, but it hasn’t increased dramatically compared to previous decades.

However, the advent of the Internet and social media sites have given bullies another outlet for tormenting their victims. Cyber bully attacks made headlines last October after Amanda Todd, a 15 year old in Vancouver, committed suicide after more than a year of bullying. Prior to the event she had posted videos online expressing her distress over the daily bullying she received.

Steps You Can Take to Stop a Bully
  • Understand what bullying is and isn’t – not all types of harassment and violence are bullying. 
  • Find out what has happened before taking action. Determine whether the bullying is physical, verbal, cyber or a combination.
  • Become familiar with your state’s anti-bullying laws so you know how you are legally protected and what is required of schools.
  • Look into federal laws that protect all citizens against discriminatory harassment.
  • Notify school officials and teachers if it’s happening during school.
  • Talk to the parents of the other child to try to resolve the problem.
  • Teach your kids how to respond to bullying without retaliation.
  • Do your best to block bullies online.
  • Follow up on the situation to make sure the bullying has stopped.
  • Utilize the U.S. Department of Education anti-bully site stopbullying.gov.

Understand that bullying can happen in a number of places outside of school and online. A bully can pick on your kid during after school activities, on the bus, around the neighborhood. Where the bullying occurs can have an effect on how you handle the situation.

How to Help Your Child If They’ve Been Bullied

The most important thing to do is talk to your kids if you know or suspect they are being bullied. Ask them how they would like you to handle things. You may think rushing to their aid is the right choice, but some kids may prefer you help handle the problem discreetly for fear that your involvement would exacerbate the situation.

Get them professional help if they need it. Bullying can cause serious depression, anxiety and low self-esteem in kids, especially teens. When talking to you child ask them if they would like to talk to someone else about the situation. Don’t make it a big deal. They may already feel like they’re a mental mess and abnormal. Point out that a lot of people, even sports stars and celebrities, see counselors and psychologists for a number of reasons.

Offer to get them self-defense classes. It’s not advocating violence, but rather a way for them to protect themselves if a situation calls for it. Self-defense classes can help your kid feel empowered instead of helpless. Sometimes simply having the courage to stand up to a bully and say “stop” is enough to fix the problem.

Keep an eye on your kids. If you notice changes in their behavior or signs of depression address it ASAP. Don’t write it off as typical moodiness. Being involved in their life and paying attention also shows them that you care. If they are being bullied knowing that someone loves them and is there for them can make all the difference.

CourageousLife.com is starting a movement that inspires individuals to overcome adversities such as bullying, fear and other emotions that prohibit people from living happy lives. Join the movement by visiting CourageousLife.com () or viewing their motivational video at (http://youtu.be/NZh2Lt3yWXI).

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