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PARENTING / K-12

Bullying in schools

Melissa Chapman and her brood of three live in the urban concrete jungle of NYC. She writes Kids in the City Kids in the City a weekly column and blog for the Staten Island Advance, contributes to SheKnows, Time Out NY Kids Time Out N...

Bullying is no kid’s game

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.

Four non-negotiable tips to help your kids tackle bullying head-on

Gregory offers the following tips that go beyond the anti-bully rhetoric and provide concrete ways parents can help their kids prevent bullying and stop bullies in their tracks.

1. Tell your kids to stand and be heard

  • Bullies believe they are invisible or invincible -- bring the bullying activity into the open.
  • Call it what it is: bullying.
  • Garner community support by asking to speak at a PTA or school board meeting.
  • Tell your own parents and ask for help -- you don't have to handle this alone.
  • Talk with your child's guidance counselor -- the more eyes watching, the better.
  • Ask the community to acknowledge that bullying is a form of hate crime.

2. Help kids develop self-awareness

Parents can encourage kids to use these strategies:

  • Recognize your worth, your potential and your magnificent humanity.
  • Watch which bullying comments stick to you; ask yourself why you believe what they are saying.
  • Ask people whose opinion you value to share what they see in you.
  • Seek positive reinforcement -- standing up to the bully is its own form of positive reinforcement.

3. Build community awareness about bullying

  • Identify the specific community and family behaviors that support bullying.
  • Bring in speakers to educate the community on the causes of and remedies for bullying.
  • Set the expectation that community members be aware of bullying and act when they see it.
  • Create Bully-Free Zones (integrated with systems like Neighborhood Watch).
  • Certify neighborhood and/or organizational Bully-Free Living advisors.

4. Create a bully-free support system at school

  • Start or join a bully-free support group at school.
  • Ask teachers or counselors to act as champions for Bully-Free Living.

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