Bullying Is No
The suicide of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Massachusetts high school student, has cast a bright light on the dire -- sometimes fatal -- consequences of extreme bullying. According to news reports, Prince was the target of self-described “mean girls” and male classmates who engaged in relentless name-calling, exclusion and harassment – in person, by text messages and on Facebook. Unfortunately, the school administration and staff failed to intervene in a timely manner. Many believe it was ultimately their silence and inaction that effectively allowed this bullying to escalate, with tragic consequences.
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Let your kids know they can talk to you
Gregory says the first step to helping your kids is to let them know they can tell you anything.
"Children being bullied need to begin talking to anyone who will listen, and if no one will listen, let their circle of influence ripple outward until someone listens," says Gregory. She also notes that parents, for their part, must underscore the fact that no one deserves to be bullied -- that it is intolerable, inhumane treatment that must stop. "If that means standing in the middle of the street (or cyberspace) and screaming for help, so be it."
Parents: share Your experiences with your kids
Devra Renner, MSW, is co-founder of Parentopia and co-author of Mommy Guilt. Her own son was bullied; when she talked to the bully's parents, the response was "Boys will be boys." She says parents can help children if they share their own childhood experiences.
"Tell kids about your own experiences if you were bullied and what you did about it," says Renner. "Knowing that their parents have also experienced being bullied may help your child open up if it is happening to them or someone they know, as it is not directly asking them to narc on anyone else. Adolescents in particular find it easier to discuss friends than [talk about] themselves, so you might find an 'in' if you open the conversation with your own experiences rather than theirs."
Next up: Help your kids tackle bullying >>