Susane Colasanti, former high school teacher and author of Keep Holding On, says that sharing her own experiences being bullied as a teenager by her peers has helped her heal and she hopes it will help others. She says, "If I survived those experiences, then there are lots of kids out there trying to survive those same experiences today. Which means it’s time to speak up."
Take Susane's advice and reach out to your children to make sure they do not feel alone, that they know they can talk to you about anything and that they should speak up if the neighborhood kid is trying to push him (or others) around.
Dr. Sheldon Horowitz, Ed.D., the director of LD resources and essential information at the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), agrees that speaking up against bullying is essential. He stresses talking to your child about bullying — even if you don't think your child has a problem with a bully. Horowitz notes, "If they are bystanders when bullying is taking place, help them to know what options they have — doing nothing not being one of them — without fear of being targeted themselves."
Horowitz continues, "The perceived consequences of 'tattling' could be keeping your child from sharing their bullying experiences. Help your child know the difference between 'tattling' and 'reporting an incident of bullying.' This is equally important for children who are being victimized, who are themselves the aggressor, or who are bystanders and not speaking up on behalf of those directly involved."
Horowitz advises parents to be proactive to stop bullying in your neighborhood before it even starts, saying, "Let everyone know (your child and his friends, school personnel, the bus driver, sports coach... everyone!) that you are on the prowl for signs of bullying and that you expect everyone else to do the same. Preventing and stopping bullying is a shared responsibility, and one that is not voluntary."
Edie Raether, MS, CSP, known as "The Bully Buster," says that while it is important to teach your child to speak up for herself and address the bully with confidence and conviction, in some cases, the parents need to get involved.
She says, "You may wish to talk to the parents or have a discussion with your child and the other child, asking questions that will help the bully be more aware of his or her behavior and the effects it has on the target or victim. I would also be clear on the consequences the continued behavior may have on the bully."
If the bully's parents become defensive it may be time to bring in authorities and legal help to stop the neighborhood bully once and for all.
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