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Parenting Articles about Bullying

Is your child being bullied? Has your teen bullied others? Read our articles for advice and perspective on the difficult issue of bullying.
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The Cool Kids: How to Help Your Child or Teen Deal with Peer Pressure, Exclusion and Cliques

The Cool Kids: How to Help Your Child or Teen Deal with Peer Pressure, Exclusion and Cliques

When we think of peer pressure, we typically have a picture in our minds of a kid handing another kid a cigarette, a joint, or a beer and saying something like, “Come on, just try it.” But at times peer pressure can be felt without a single word being spoken, like when a clique excludes others or rolls their eyes at the (in their opinion) uncool kids who walk by.

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Child and Teen Bullying: How to Help When Your Kid is Bullied

Child and Teen Bullying: How to Help When Your Kid is Bullied

Bullying is really just another form of abuse: it’s about kids using power to control other kids, sometimes with the intention to cause harm. What can we do as parents when our kids find themselves the target of another child's cruelty or physical aggression? Read on to learn 10 ways you can help your child or teen.

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Is Your Child Being Bullied? 9 Steps You Can Take as a Parent

Is Your Child Being  Bullied? 9 Steps You Can Take as a Parent

As we all know too well, name–calling, cruel taunts, cyberbullying and physical bullying happen every day to kids across the country. When your child is being bullied, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else—all you want to do is make it stop immediately. Janet Lehman, MSW explains what you can do to help your child—and what could hurt them in the long run.

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The Secret Life of Bullies: Why They Do It—and How to Stop Them

The Secret Life of Bullies: Why They Do It—and How to Stop Them

Why do some kids turn to bullying? The answer is simple: it solves their social problems. After all, it’s easier to bully somebody than to work things out, manage your emotions, and learn to solve problems. Bullying is the proverbial “easy way out,” and sadly, some kids take it.

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Girl Fighting and Your Child

Girl Fighting and Your Child

Chances are that at some point your daughter will come home from school feeling excluded, targeted, or ostracized, maybe even scared. If you are lucky, she will turn to you for guidance on what to do, and share with you how she feels. As a parent, that sad and sometimes frustrating moment can be an opportunity, as long as you feel even a little bit prepared.

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Combat CyberBullying: Be a Part of Your Daughter’s Life—the Real and the Virtual

Combat CyberBullying: Be a Part of Your Daughters Life—the Real and the Virtual

In this age of MySpace, cell phones and instant messaging, it has never been more important to ensure that you are a part of your daughter’s life: the real and the virtual. It is no surprise that girls are enamored with social communications as a way to make connections and keep in touch. By the time they are ten or eleven, they may be developing their own websites, and creating fun emoticons, avatars, and colorful texts for their emails.

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Girl Violence in the News (And How to Talk to Your Child about It)

Girl Violence in the News (And How to Talk to Your Child about It)

Empowering Parents asked bullying expert and award-winning author Peggy Moss to address issues of girl violence and bullying, noting, “Even if the press perhaps sensationalizes certain events, how do we address these bullying episodes in order keep our children safe?”

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My Child is Being Bullied—What Should I Do?

My Child is Being Bullied—What Should I Do?

Are name-calling and teasing just part of growing up, a rite of passage that all kids go through? Many people out there think that adults are making too much of a fuss about it, that we should leave kids to their own devices. We know better now,” argues Peggy. “I have talked to 80-year-olds who remember the name of the person who tormented them in school, and the name of the child who stood up for them in first grade. This is pain that has lasted a lifetime. We have the information to stop bullying now, so why wouldn’t we?”

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Top Five Concerns for Back to School

Top Five Concerns for Back to School

Last month, we invited readers to email us with their “Number One Concern” for their child in the upcoming school year. Our Parental Support Line staff responded to each inquiry with suggestions based on the Total Transformation and Total Focus Programs. Read on to see what you can do to help you and your child get through the school year with flying colors.

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The Truth About Bullies

The Truth About Bullies

The public perception of bullying is that bullies are acting out to cover their own fears. They may indeed be afraid, but accepting this as a reason makes bullies sound like victims of their fears -- like we’re supposed to feel sorry for them and not hold them responsible for their abusive actions.

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Does My Child Need To See A Therapist?

Blogger Your seven-year-old son, Justin, is so embarrassing.  He approaches adults and asks personal questions that seem inappropriate.  He seems to have no sense of shame, and little interest in conforming to social norms.  You cringe at the thought of taking him to family affairs and public events, where you never know what kind of catastrophe might transpire.  And when you broach the topic, he easily dismisses it and hardly makes eye contact.  You have already heard dubious murmurs regarding your parenting capabilities on several occasions, causing you to feel completely misunderstood.  All this despite the parenting lectures you invested in! Julio, who has just turned six, has been turning your life upside down for as long as you can remember.   His explosive outbursts are both unpredictable and utterly irrational.  You were convinced that his rigid inflexibility was just an extension of his “terrible twos,”, but he has since doubled in age and his explosions have only increased in duration and frequency. Everyone seems to adore Laura, a lovely, compliant eleven-year-old.  But you are worried that she seems to have little drive and never takes initiative.  She gives up easily and just doesn’t seem to have many interests.  When she does get excited and begins a project, she rarely completes it. And Sean, who is seven, is so active and aggressive that you are scared to leave him in the playground without constant supervision.  And even that doesn’t seem to stop neighbors from complaining about him.  Although Sean’s teachers and the principal are polite at PTA, the looks on their faces imply what the future will look like as Sean journeys through his school years. Justin, Julio, Laura and Sean’s parents are worried about their children.  Are these normal behaviors?  Will they “outgrow” them, or should the parents take action? Most of you reading these short vignettes can probably identify a child you know as closely meeting one of these descriptions.  Do these children need to see a therapist?  How would therapy benefit these children? Let us first identify the purpose of psychotherapy. To Love and To Work When I began my career as a Clinical Social Worker, a typical comment I would hear from friends was that they believed most people could benefit from psychotherapy.  But what percentage of people who say this actually step up to the plate and attend weekly sessions?  In a groundbreaking 2004 survey, a Harris poll showed that 27% of people in the U.S. received psychotherapy during that era.  That survey also concluded that only one in three people who needed psychological treatment was receiving it.  So, you may ask, where is the other 54%? Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, defined mental health as the ability “to love and to work.”  In simple terms, a person’s mental health is limited when it gets in the way of his regular ability to function and to have relationships with others.  The purpose of psychotherapy is to help the consumer attain those two objectives.  This can be accomplished through many forms of therapy, with each therapist offering his own style and each consumer responding in his own way. That said, in determining whether to take your child for an assessment, the parents should initially look at three factors: 1) The parent(s), 2) The child, and 3) The parent-child.
  • The parent: Are you the type to become easily alarmed or overly reactive?  Be mindful that you are not reacting simply because your child is not perfect.  Sometimes, children evoke feelings in a parent that might be a result of the parent’s own unresolved issues.  In that case, it is really the parent who needs therapy.
  • The child: The next step is to evaluate whether the child’s issue is significant enough to require psychotherapeutic services.  It is strictly this category that would deem the child fit for psychotherapy.  Here is a partial list of issues that might be assisted by working with a mental health professional:
    • learning or attention problems (such as ADHD)
    • behavioral problems (such as excessive anger, acting out, bedwetting or eating disorders)
    • a significant drop in grades, particularly if your child normally maintains high grades
    • episodes of sadness, tearfulness, or depression
    • social withdrawal or isolation
    • being the victim of bullying or bullying other children
    • decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
    • overly aggressive behavior
    • sudden changes in appetite
    • insomnia or increased sleepiness
    • mood swings (e.g., happy one minute, upset the next)
    • development of, or an increase in, physical complaints (such as headache, stomachache, or not feeling well) despite a normal physical exam by your doctor
    • management of a serious, acute, or chronic illness
    • problems in transitions (following separation, divorce, or relocation)
    • bereavement issues
    • therapy following physical, or emotional abuse or other traumatic events
  • The parent-child:  Whether the child’s issue stems from a poor attachment or not, it can often be helped through an enhanced parent-child relationship.  This approach offers the parents tools to regularly help their child develop his lagging skills in his natural environment.  This can be done in individual or family counseling.
  Finding a Therapist If you suspect that your child can benefit from ongoing therapy, it is a good idea to determine who might be the best fit for her or him.  For example, do you or your child have a preference for a male or female therapist?  Younger, older or middle age?  Would you prefer that a potential therapist has experience working with a similar family situation (such as a blended family or foster family), or a diagnosis?  Remember, choosing a therapist is always a risk, since the results can be relative and subjective.  There are numerous modalities  that therapists use to work with children and each one can be successful in its own right.  Sometimes it can take a few appointments, or meeting with multiple therapists, before you can determine whether that specific counselor will be a good fit for you, your child, and/or your family. Remember, these are just a few guidelines toward finding a good match.  Ideally, a referral from a friend or family member can often provide you with the most vital information when seeking a quality therapist.  Your child's pediatrician or primary care doctor might be an additional source of information, or referrals to other local professionals.  Another resource which can be useful in finding a counselor or therapist is the 211 Helpline, which you can contact at 1-800-273-6222 or by logging on to www.211.org in the US.  In Canada, you can reach the 211 Helpine by calling 1-800-836-3238 or by visiting www.211.ca Moshe Norman, MSW LCSW is a child and family therapist in Lakewood, NJ.  He can be reached at mnormanlcsw@gmail.com or at moshenorman.com

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Mean Girl Bullying Has Changed for Millennial Teens: 5 Reasons Why

Blogger I see from my teen clients that girl drama has reached a new peak, or in reality, a new low.  Teen girl social strife and the drama that accompanies it are magnified to a new scale of meanness in today’s social climate. The tragedy is that girls disguised as friends are often just bossy bullies.  Girls looking for true friends are unable to find a safe harbor in their peers where they can comfortably be themselves. This happens in “friend groups”, a millennial word for “clique”, which are comprised of several members and one queen bee who runs the show.  The ultimate mean girl as the decider of who stays and who goes is nothing new, and sadly extends far beyond adolescents. Just read the April 2014 story in Boston Magazine to learn about Boston’s suburban mean moms and the devastating impact they have on others’ lives. http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/article/2014/03/25/mean-moms-suburbs/ It makes sense that the female offspring of these mean moms are raised as bullying pros without even knowing it; effortlessly tormenting pals in their “friend groups”. In today’s culture, the ‘anything goes’ motto extends beyond appearance and attire into relationships.  Teens struggle to define typical peer relationships in a culture that accepts rivals, or worse, rival friendships. Here are 5 reasons why it’s too easy for girls to be the new mean girl. Brazen Attitude of Entitlement  Our indulgent culture of ensuring kids are heard has been misinterpreted  by many  to mean, “It’s okay to allow our children to be demanding of anyone, anytime.” Girlfriends ask whatever they want of each other, and the ones who can’t or won’t meet expectations are often left on the outs. I can think of a recent example where a mom offered to take her daughter and four out of 12 friends to the mall after school; that’s all that would fit in her car.  Upon pick-up at the school, the mother arrived to a scene of uninvited girls insisting that they should have been included. The mother, a nice, well-intentioned woman, felt bad that the girls were upset. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry.  My car only fits 5,” she agreed to chaperone all 12 girls at the mall if they could get a ride there, however, that was not sufficient. The girls yelled across the parking lot and called and texted the mall-going girls throughout the entire afternoon, complaining that they were left behind. The mother was horrified by the scene these girls created under the guise of close friendship, where in reality they acted more as if they were in a gang. Isn’t punishing individuals for not doing what the entire group decides a form of socialized aggression, consistent with a gang? When asked, the girls adamantly describe their friend group as being composed of close peer friendships, and yet they treat each other very poorly.  It's not safe for them to make decisions without a group consensus, similar to a gang. Tolerance of Blatant Disrespect. Teen girls  don’t demonstrate self-respect when they  blatantly disrespect others, including adults and those in authority. Self-respect implies that a person feels enough respect for themselves to treat others with kindness and the way they would want to be treated. When teens are nasty to whoever isn’t giving them exactly what they demand, they are letting everyone know how badly they feel about themselves and the world around them. Parents who attempt to make their home a welcome spot for their daughters and their friends complain that the girls’ treatment of one another and of the parents is very troublesome. They describe the girls as having a complete disregard for authority and treating parents more like underlings then actual adults who are in charge. Helicopter Parents.  Acceptance of drama and promotion of entitlement by parents only breeds more of the same. Mothers report that they often try to mediate their teen daughter’s peer conflicts because they are fearful that, without parental assistance, the girls will lose their friends and have a social breakdown. Historically, teens have wanted separation from their mothers; wanting to do things their way as they grow more independent.  And yet I’ve frequently heard from teens and mothers that parents “need” to get involved in teen drama because the girls can't seem to resolve their own conflicts. What is this teaching our teenagers? Parents need to allow their teen girls to fight their own battles, learn from their mistakes and choose friends that are true friends. Not all girls are part of the mean crowd.  Teens who learn early on who their true friends are, and what qualities are important in a friendship, may not suffer so much in adulthood. Parents would benefit from allowing their daughters to learn this earlier rather than later, after settling into an adult lifestyle like the Boston Magazine article describes. Bypassing assertiveness and going directly for aggressiveness. All of the examples above point towards an unmitigated intensity that reflects aggressive behavior much more than assertiveness. Teens today could use some basic assertiveness training which is a component of acting like a mature and responsible adult. Assertive people have acquired the skills to state their opinions to others in a respectful manner, while those who are aggressive attack others and force their opinions on others. Assertive people have a better chance of gaining the respect of those around them, as they are able to stand up for themselves while considering the needs and views of others. Parents, adults and authority figures own the burden of teaching young girls how to assert their needs with friends, family and even adults. Girls learn through being assertive and advocating for their position and desires without attacking others. Social media. Social media has an instant audience for every impulse and angry statement. That was not the original intent of social media, yet it seems to be its primary use amongst teens who fail to realize that even texting can’t be erased forever. Parents can teach children that freedom of expression on the Internet does not mean bashing a business on Yelp or a person on Facebook. It’s always better to confront a person directly. It’s normal and natural to want to do it via the web in an over-the-top way when someone feels slighted. By outlining the reasons that this will backfire and be even less effective than speaking directly to whomever has let you down, parents can teach children the right way to be assertive and stay away from aggressive attacks on others. As adults, we need to take a good hard look at what's happening to our children today.  If we're raising them to be demanding, insensitive and possessive to the point of being hurtful and self-destructive, then we need to change our behavior and help them change theirs. Kate Roberts, Ph.D., is a Boston-area licensed clinical psychologist and certified school psychologist, who has coached parents and families for 25 years. She has published a number of articles in professional journals and offers parents practical strategies in her bi-weekly parenting column; Dr. Kate’s Parent Rap in the Salem News and in her Savvy Parenting blog for Psychology Today. Dr. Roberts has worked as a consulting psychologist to school districts throughout New England and  works with parents and children through institutions such as Massachusetts General Hospital. You can check out Dr. Kate's website at www.drkateroberts.com and also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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Today's School Climate: Everyone's a Victim and Nobody's a Bully

Blogger At the 2013 Tennessee School Counselors and Administrators Institute I attended, there was much talk about bully prevention programs. The school where I work has such a program, and we have been utilizing it now for almost a full school year. The problem is, I'm not sure if the problem of bullying over the years has gotten better -- or worse.
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Bullying or Criminal Assault? 12-year-old Bailey O'Neill Dies After Being Taken Off Life Support

Blogger Bullying victim Bailey O'Neill died Sunday, from injuries sustained while being beaten on a school playground in suburban Philadelphia. He suffered a broken nose and a concussion that caused subsequent seizures, which forced doctors to put him into a medically-induced coma in January. Yesterday Bailey was taken off life support.
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