Battling Bullies

Here are some tips to help parents deal with bullies:

Helping victims

Begin early: Two-year-olds can learn to say, “I don’t like that, that hurts.” If children reveal they’ve been bullied, don’t ask where the teacher was, ask how they felt and what else they could have done. Tell them they don’t deserve to be treated this way.

Don’t teach your children to fight back. It is unrealistic to expect most kids to do it and unwise in any event. Tell them to avoid the bully; practice telling the bully to stop and then informing an adult.

Find what your child does well and nurture that talent. Self-confidence is a deterrent.

Don’t shelter your children; finishing their chores and rescuing them may add to their sense of frailty.

Help your child build friendships with other children; they reaffirm his self-worth and can help protect him.

Pay attention. If your kid runs home to use the bathroom, he may be afraid to go at school; if he’s constantly losing money and supplies, a bully may be taking them. Watch for torn clothing, unexplained bruises and vague maladies such as stomachaches or moodiness and changes in grades.

Believe children if they say they’re being picked on. Start a written record of dates, names and circumstances so you can show a pattern.

Do not contact the bully directly. Call the teacher first and then the principal to discuss ways to stop the behavior, separate the students or enter mediation. Ask them to involve the bully’s parents.

Ask your family doctor to intervene if school officials don’t act.

Consider changing schools, or contacting the police or an attorney to pursue legal remedies for assault or harassment.

Do something. Bullying is about a power imbalance and adults must help victims precisely because they lack the power to help themselves.

How you can help bullies:

Teach empathy; talk about others’ rights and feelings. Ask “How do you think she feels?” Turn off the television.

Don’t be a bully yourself; look at how you discipline and try to consistently use non-physical means, by withholding privileges or assigning extra chores.

Give active kids other outlets such as physical sports. Look at who may be bullying the bully, a classmate or sibling

Supervise your children with their friends.

Get involved. It is all too easy to drop our children off in the first grade, then pick them up 12 years later and wonder what went wrong in between, educators say.

, DataTimes

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