Making Sure 'Back to School' Doesn't Mean 'Back to Bullying'

Parents can help teach kids to deal with the problem, expert says

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SATURDAY, Sept. 3, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- For some children, the start of school means the beginning of bullying.

Despite widespread efforts to deal with the problem, bullying is a persistent issue in schools, says Donna Henderson, a professor of counseling at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"The goal is to create a no-bullying environment for children. It's hard because we live in a world that accepts violence, intimidation and power as currency in life," Henderson said in a university news release.

Henderson offered tips for parents to prevent their children from becoming bullies or victims:

  • Ask school officials and teachers about what they do to prevent bullying and hold schools accountable for their anti-bullying policies.
  • Watch for warning signs in children at the start of the new school year, such as sudden changes in behavior and not eating.
  • When you see bullying behavior, call it bullying and tell your children that it's unacceptable behavior.
  • Discuss bullying with your children. Use real situations, news stories, television programs and movies as opportunities to talk about bullying.
  • Regularly ask children about bullying and address any problem immediately.
  • If your child is being bullied, letting them know you understand and share their distress can help them feel better.
  • Discuss and/or role play possible responses to bullying, such as walking away, not showing emotion, staying in groups to avoid being singled out, and confronting a bully.
  • Do some self-assessment. If you use intimidation in your dealings with others, you may be setting a bullying example for your child. Or if you're bullied by other adults and don't put a stop to it, your child will believe that's the way to respond to bullies.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about bullying.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University, news release, Aug. 22, 2011

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