Health and safety experts say that preventing bullying among children requires more awareness and intervention among adults. Some signs to watch for and ways to help:
A child may be getting bullied if he:
Returns from school with damaged or missing clothing, books or belongings.
Has unexplained cuts, bruises or scratches.
Has few, if any, friends.
Appears afraid of going to school.
Has lost interest in school work.
Complains of headaches or stomach aches.
Has trouble sleeping or has frequent nightmares.
Appears sad, depressed or moody.
Appears anxious or has poor self-esteem.
Is quiet and passive.
Tips for parents in helping children deal with bullies:
Teach children to be assertive, rather than aggressive or violent, when confronted by a bully.
Instruct them to walk away and get help from an adult in more dangerous situations.
Practice various responses to bullying with your children through role-playing.
Encourage children to share information about school-related activities.
Inform school officials of bullying, and keep your own written records of names, dates and times of the incidents.
Respond to your children's concerns with patience and support.
Tips for children who witness bullying:
Enlist an adult immediately if someone is in danger of getting hurt.
Do not watch. If you cannot intervene, walk away.
Do not react emotionally with laughter, or even a nervous giggle or snicker.
Combat the rumor mill with the truth about a victim.
Offer your support and friendship afterward.
Report the incident, time and place to a teacher, counselor, school nurse or administrator.
Sources: National PTA, Sue Limber, associate director of the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life, Clemson University.
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