One hot topic – bullying

Published 9:46am Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Stopbullying.gov states there are many warning signs a child is being bullied including: unexplained injuries, torn or destroyed clothing, frequent headaches, fakes being ill and problems sleeping.

Other signs include declining grades, loss of friends, asking for increased lunch money, coming home hungry, expressing feelings of helplessness, or talking about suicide. Children may develop self destructive behaviors, run away from home, or begin harming themselves. If any of these behaviors or a combination of them becomes apparent, talk with your child, his or her teacher and the school counselor to find out what is happening at school.

KidsHealth.org suggests the first step is to get your child to talk about it. Once the subject is brought up, praise your child for being willing to talk about it, then brainstorm on possible solutions. You may have to remove the “bait” by having your child pack a lunch or pay lunch money directly to the school. Be sure to have your child “buddy up” with a friend or two, as it is more difficult for a bully to pick on a child when friends are around. Remind your child to remain calm, walk away from the bully if he or she can, tell the bully to stop and to ignore cruel remarks. Bullies like hurting others so if your child does not react the bully may move on. Talking to the bully’s parents may help, but do so within the school setting with the school counselor or principal.

Bullying can have a devastating effect on children and adults. Don’t stand by and let it happen. Be proactive, have a zero tolerance for this inappropriate behavior, and don’t be a silent bystander. Bullying is not cool.

-written by Rob Fuller. Fuller is an independent psychotherapist working for Polk Wellness Center within the Polk County School System.

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