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

by Debbie Pincus MS LMHC
Child and Teen Bullying: How to Help When Your Kid is Bullied

The new documentary “Bully” follows the lives of five children who are the victims of verbal and physical cruelty at the hands of their fellow students—and it’s getting people to sit up and take notice of a problem that just seems to get more pervasive and toxic as the years go by. In spite of all of the debate and awareness around the issue, one out of every four children in our country is still being bullied by other kids at school. What can we do as parents to help our children when they find themselves the target of another kid’s cruelty or physical aggression? Debbie Pincus, creator of the Calm Parent AM & PM, gives tips on how you can address the situation effectively (and without over-personalizing it) as a parent.

One of the most difficult things to do when your child is being bullied is to stay in your box and avoid over-personalizing what’s happening.

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. Being bullied is hurtful and humiliating. It’s not an accident or joke—it’s a repetitive action that happens to a designated person or group over a period of time. Social networking and cell phones allow kids to be bullied twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, and their humiliation is often widespread and long-lasting. The difference between the bullying that happened during our childhoods and what’s going on now? Today’s kids can’t get away from it.

Related: Anxious about your child? How to parent from a calm place.

Is Your Child Being Bullied? Know the Signs

Most kids aren’t going to come home and tell you that they’re being bullied—in fact, many won’t say anything. Your child might feel ashamed or worried that they are to blame somehow, and they become experts at keeping it all inside. What are the signs you need to know as a parent?

  • Reluctance to go to school or to get on the computer.
  • Your child’s mood changes after looking at their cell phone or going on Facebook.
  • Your child may not want to get on the school bus; begs you for rides to school every day.
  • Is frequently sick, with headaches and sleeping problems—and often wants to stay home from school.
  • You might notice damaged or missing belongings, or that your child keeps losing money or other valuable items.
  • Unexplained injuries or bruises.
  • Your child doesn’t seem to be eating his lunch—he comes home unusually hungry, or his lunch comes back home with him.
  • He might be moody, anxious, depressed, or withdrawn.

While exhibiting one or more of these signs might not necessarily mean that your child is being bullied (or cyberbullied), these are important things to pay attention to if you suspect something is going on.

Related: Doing too much for your child? How to stop—and get him to be responsible.

What Should Parents Do?

What can—or should—you do if your child is being bullied? Whether your child tells you outright that he’s being bullied at school or you simply suspect it, you need to listen to what he has to say around this subject, take him seriously, and empathize calmly. Support him by assuring him that what’s happening is wrong, and let him know he has a legitimate right and a responsibility to put a stop to any kind of harmful behavior that goes on—and that you will get him some help with the problem.

When you find out your child is being bullied, you naturally feel anxious, upset and angry. Your first reaction is not always going to be the most effective way to handle the situation, though, because it’s probably coming from emotion and not from a calm, objective place—which is where you want to be when you talk with your child. Here are some good rules of thumb for parents to follow when dealing with this difficult situation:

Don’t over-personalize it: One of the most difficult things to do when your child is being bullied is to stay in your box and avoid over-personalizing what’s happening. After all, when our kids are hurting, we often feel the pain as well. Many of us remember being bullied as children ourselves, and so our child’s situation drags up feelings of pain, shame and humiliation. But make no mistake, if you’re not listening calmly and objectively to your child, you’re probably not going to be helpful. You don’t want to over-personalize and overreact. Instead, you want to listen well and help them problem solve to find ways to deal with the situation at hand. When you overreact, you’re going to overstep your bounds—it’s unavoidable.

Related: How to stop over-personalizing your child’s moods and behavior.

Don’t swoop in immediately and take over: You might feel angry and anxious and want to rush in and fix everything, but that’s not going to help your child most in the long-run. If you do this, she will feel powerless not only from the bully but also from you, because she sees you worried, falling apart or charging in. It’s really important to calm down so you can listen and make a plan together. Ask, “How can I be most helpful to you?” Don’t forget to strategize with your child—this is where the life lesson will come in, because this will enable her to learn how to deal with this situation in the future. (For more ideas on how to strategize with your child and for different conversations you can have with them about how to handle bullying, read My Child is Being Bullied—What Should I Do?)

Don’t minimize: Keep in mind that you don’t want to underreact either, by minimizing the problem or telling your child he’s being “too sensitive.” This is not a time to leave your kid alone. He needs someone more powerful than the bullies to advocate for him and help him handle the situation.

Don’t blame: If your child is being bullied, don’t blame her for what’s happening. Don’t ask, “Well, what are you doing to make the kids pick on you? You must be doing something.” There is often no reason for a child to be picked on, other than that they are in the line of sight of another child who wants to taunt or hurt them. There is no justification for bullying. Blaming your child will only make them shut down—or worse, blame themselves for what’s happening. Instead, let your child know that it’s not them—anyone can be a target. It’s often just a case of wrong place, wrong time, and any kind of difference or vulnerability can do it. The best way to help your child not be a target is to help them practice not reacting from fear or anger. (More on this later.)

Related: Blaming yourself? Why it’s more important to take responsibility.

Have open conversations: Talk with your child about your own experiences. Really empathize with them and their situation by being authentic with them. It's okay to say, "I feel so sad when I hear what you're going through. I'm here to help you." Do your best to have the kind of relationship where you keep the lines of communication open. Encourage them to talk to other adults in their lives who they might be close to, as well—sometimes an aunt, friend or teacher can give advice and say things that you might not be able to say because you’re too close to the problem.

Strategize with Your Child

You can help your child by having problem-solving conversations around bullying, and coming up with strategies together. Here are a few you might suggest to your child:

Teach your child not to react out of fear: Often, kids feel shocked and paralyzed when someone calls them a cruel name or hurts them. If they stand there and take it, get upset and lose control, or start crying, the other kids will have what they want—a reaction. Let your child know that reacting out of fear or anger is going to set them up for more of the same: either way, it’s just going to fuel the fire. I think the simplest way to change the dynamic is to make the bully feel uncomfortable with their own behavior. As a general rule, kids should try to avoid hitting or fighting back verbally or physically—this often will only cause the bullying to escalate. Tell your child to say something that’s short, simple, and neutral but that doesn’t necessarily egg on the other person more, and then leave the scene.

Have some slogans ready—and then walk away: One simple phrase like “Cut it out” or “Stop” or “I’ve had enough” or “Not funny” can be very effective when your child is being bullied. Encourage them to find a way to say something that feels right to them. They don’t need to insult the other person back or get reactive to it. Above all, they don’t want to get into a fight with the other child because that’s just going to feed it. Walking away—and not engaging with the child who is bullying them—is one of the best ways to defuse this situation.

Ignore the bully: As hard as it is for kids in this situation, tell your child to try to ignore bullying by either pretending they don’t hear or by keeping a straight face and not reacting to the taunts. It’s often very effective for kids to act as if they are uninterested in the insults and to simply refrain from responding to them. You can practice with your child at home, too, by role playing the situations they face at school. Help them practice not showing anger or fear.

Use the buddy system: Tell your child that there is strength in numbers; when your child is with a friend, it makes it harder to be isolated or targeted by bullies.

Talk to an adult: Encourage your child to go to his school guidance counselor, a teacher, or a school administrator when she is being bullied. It is the duty of school officials to hold anyone who is bullying another student accountable. Explain the difference between “tattling” and “telling.” Tattling is done for the purpose of getting somebody else in trouble, and telling is done because something is going on that’s not okay and an adult needs to know. Telling is done to protect oneself and to protect others.

Related: How to respond thoughtfully and calmly, rather than react out of anxiety or fear.

When it’s Time to Step in

If things have escalated to a point where you need to step in and take more official action, tell your child you’re going to help him and work with him so the situation doesn’t become worse. Remind him that it is his right to feel safe at school. Decide on the best way to do that together without overreacting or jumping in too quickly. Listen to your child carefully, hear the whole story, ask him how he sees it, and ask what would be most helpful to him. Kids need to know that someone more powerful than the bully is on their side and can put a stop to the bullying—and often, that someone is you.


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For more than 25 years, Debbie has offered compassionate and effective therapy and coaching, helping individuals, couples and parents to heal themselves and their relationships. Debbie is the creator of the Calm Parent AM & PM program and is also the author of numerous books for young people on interpersonal relations.

READER'S COMMENTS

That all sounds great, however, since using the advice our son has lost friends, is looked at as a whimp and a snitch. This was a result of sticking up for a kid being bullied. If our son had handled this the old fashioned way, he would never have the continuing problems and would probably have the respect of his peers as someone you shouldn't mess with. Our school admin understands that if it turns into a physical confrontation, so be it. Sometimes the right thing doesn't work.

Comment By : Take it no more

I found the article very helpful and very well elaborated. Talking about a subject that really affects many children and parents as well, in a friendly way and getting straight to the point with useful tips and information.

Comment By : Rita Mauer

Very practical article. As a therapist I will refer clients to it for assistance with this pressing issue.

Comment By : Johnny D

this advice could not have come at a better time, my daughter is being bullied, verbally, by text and facebook, the other child does not go to her school, but that does not change the fact she sees her in the street. i have today called my daughters school and the other girls school, i have a meeting set up with both head teachers and this girl, her parents and my daughter. i am hoping this intervention will cease this incessant behavior and stop it without the need to escalate it to the police, but thank you for letting me know we are not alone, and are not helpless

Comment By : MamaJ

This is all well and good for the older kids. What about the ones in kindergarten and elementary school? My adopted son has been bullied since he started riding the bus to school in kindergarten. Not to mention what his real parents put him through abusing him.

Comment By : Aim E.

But What about if YOUR kid IS the Bully and he WONT stop?? We've tried everything. Next step is jail!

Comment By : frustrated

My daughter had an issue with a particular girl. The school got involved with meetings, meetings don't work! In fact, I found that they made things worse. I boosted my child's confidence as much as I could and told her I trust her instincts to do what she felt was best, even if it meant physical. I explained hitting is not ok unless the other person starts it. Once she knew I had her back and she wasn't in trouble she took the situation in her own hands and was comfortable enough to do so. I think sometimes kids just need the confidence and the ok to "fight" back. (not endorsing physical violence what so ever) My daughter stuck up for herself as well as others and has many friends because of it, can't say the same for the bully who continues to have meetings with the school.

Comment By : MamaJay

Good

Comment By : taseer

My middle school-aged son was the target of vicious cyberbullying recently. It's devastating to the child and to the family. Unfortunately, his school is back in the dark ages when it comes to the most effective way to handle it. Police were involved, yet the principal did nothing more than call the parents in for a powwow and then send the kids back to class. These kids learned nothing other than if you do something REALLY bad that an adult would have been prosecuted for, you will face zero consequences. And not one parent brought their child over to offer any apology. What a world!

Comment By : Gimmeshelter

This is all good except when it runs a little deeper than the article goes. My son is extremely overweight...has been from birth. Obesity runs in the family and he can gain weight just by thinking about food. Behavior modification is going on as I type this BUT -- he has such low self-esteem b/c of bullying all his life for being fat. At 15, he has no friends and will not eat during the day (he doesn't want people seeing him eat) so he waits until he gets home. The bullying never stops. I fear for him b/c even if he were to lose 100 lbs., his self-image issues will be with him for life. It's a vicious cycle -- bullying, depression, eating -- then start again.

Comment By : onesadmama

What do we do when the bully is a TEACHER? My son's TEACHER constantly gets on to him about little things, and has even moved his desk away from the other kids. She forgets about him when it's time for the class to go for lunch or breaks, and won't call on him to answer during discussions. She even sent him to the office once for "rude speaking and rude gestures".. although exactly what those were she wouldn't say. We've had meetings with this teacher AND the principal (who just sticks up for the teacher btw). We see the effects of the degradation in his grades and his attitude. He doesn't want to go to school, doesn't want to study and is withdrawn much of the time. His grades have gone from B's & C's at semester to barely passing or failing all together. Is it time for us to take some actions besides what we've tried already? Thankfully, they are out of school for this year in about a month.

Comment By : PO\'d Tiger mom

From my viewpoint, bullying incidents are escalating because we wait until there is blood to do anything—and sometimes, that’s too late. We tell our children to tell an adult, but in our experience, my child told the teacher, school coach, counselor and the assistant principal. Certainly, with each telling, the kids called my son a snitch cry baby and a wimp; but the most hurtful thing was the adults’ responses. Each time my child told, the kids in question responded with “just playing" or “it was an accident” and then the adults tossed the situations aside as “just children playing” episodes. Many times my son’s take was that the adults treated him as a nuisance for telling. One child collared my child after my child reported him to the assistant principal for bullying… A teacher witnessed the incident and said “hands off” and that was the end of that. When the same child later beat my child, and I brought the police in, the assistant principal commented "you said he beat your child, but he only hit him once." (Turns out it was bad enough that another child who also bullied my child had to tell him to stop) The mother commented,"You should have called me..." Since involving the police, no one attempts to physically abuse my child. Sure they still call my child a nerd, but for that one, I tell my child nerd today ... boss tomorrow. He need not apologize to anyone for being smart. Sorry I digressed. I just want to tell parents, don't wait for the adults at school to handle the situation. You must become involved. Support your children. While you must work with the school, do not assume that the situation is appropriately handled. Follow up and hold the school accountable for providing a safe environment for your children to learn.

Comment By : Proud Mama

As a parent, I feel this article only tackles the initial onset of bullying. When I was young, I was bullied by some older kids because of an over sized head. I went to my dad who said I could choose to keep being picked on, or I could do something about it. After attempting to talk to the bully, and listening to the response - I chose to step it up a notch. In standing up for myself I didn't win the fight, but won the war. The bully did not pick on me anymore. The reason it worked when talk did not; Kids are not adults, they don't pay bills or take out mortgages. Adults don't run around acting like kids either. I have advised my kids to attempt to talk to the bullies, but the minute he resorts to physicallity or invades your private space - stand your ground. See, I believe in the old school adage of standing up for yourself. At this point in my life, I have never, ever, seen a bully back down because of words. A quote I remember from somewhere is: If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good. Sorry I am just old school that way. Oh, by the way, I grew into my head...

Comment By : Big Head

* Hi ‘Aim E.’: It sounds like your young son has been through a lot of really difficult things over a short amount of time. It’s frustrating when you feel powerless to help or heal a child who has been hurt, and you raise a good question here about how to help elementary aged children to deal with bullies. The techniques mentioned here in Debbie Pincus’ article can apply for younger kids too, especially role playing bullying situations so that younger kids can practice their responses. For anyone who has a child being bullied, it’s important to get help from a local therapist or counselor if your child’s behavior changes, or if he/she seems sad, anxious, or seems to struggle to carry out regular everyday tasks. It might also be necessary at times to speak with school administrators or administrators at the district level if bullying persists.

Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

* To ‘frustrated’: It sounds like you have been working really hard to help your child stop bullying. And, it’s really scary to think about what natural consequences might be coming down the line for him or her. One of the best things you can do is talk to your child about what they were trying to accomplish by bullying and what they can do differently instead to get a similar result. For some kids, impulsiveness is an issue and they need to be coached on how to stop and think before they say something or take an action. We have a couple more articles that offer more information and ideas on this topic: The Secret Life of Bullies: Why They Do It—and How to Stop Them & The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: "I Can't Solve Problems." We wish you and your family luck as you work through this. Take care.

Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

My fifth grade son was recently physically attacked on the playground, receiving a badly scraped arm and a bump on the head. When he told the playground teacher, which I have taught my kids to do whenever possible rather than retaliating physically, she believed the bully's friends when they told her the bully did nothing. She sent my son to the school nurse to clean up the blood, but did nothing else. When I heard this, I immediately wanted to call the principal and demand that he discipline the teacher. Instead, I called the bully's father and told him what had happened. I explained that I was worried that his son was taking the wrong path, and that my kids told me his son had lost a lot of friends because of his behavior. I told the father that my boys (I have two fifth graders who have each others' backs) had my permission to "take his son down and clean his clock" if he ever attempted to hurt them outside the school grounds. The father had to admit that it would be self defense if that happened. My sons tell me that since then the boy has not bothered them again, and in fact seldom even speaks to them. This is the third time I have called a parent, and it seems to work like a charm. I believe parents need to know when their child is bullying another, so they can take steps to stop it at home. If that doesn't work, we can take it the next step and involve law enforcement, since the school doesn't seem to be very effective. It hasn't yet come to that, and I hope it never does. But I'm prepared to have a bully "scared straight" if that's what it takes to change his life and protect my kids -- and his future victims. My boys call me their "tiger mom," and they aren't far from wrong. No one messes with my kids.

Comment By : Lyn

I have always discussed bullying with our kids as, "Does it say something about you or something about them?" We then talk about why they bully, what fuels their power, and what gives my child his/her power. Still, my son was bullied and didn't want to share it with anyone, always saying "I can handle it." We watched his self-esteem plummet and he now acts out to try to be cool -- swearing, not contributing in class. The schools need to do more to catch it and stop it.

Comment By : mel33

FACEBOOK is a HUGE problem ... wow - it is amazing how much info kids post about their parents, siblings and friends, that can fuel a bullying session, without them even knowing it ... amazing how many parents are not aware or interested enough to care, what their kids are showing the world ...

Comment By : lovethebulls

My son's bus driver is his worst bully by far. Until his younger sister and cousins started riding the same bus, I thought he was exaggerating and aggravating the driver. I am now hearing from the other kids that she constantly targets my son even if others on the bus are doing the same thing. She called him "a piece of junk" to her favored students and both my daughter and my nephews heard her! She also called him an "attention wh*re" That may be true sometimes but to have a person in authority call a child that in front of the other kids is inexcusable! It just makes it ok for the other kids to bully him too. Meeting w/ the driver and Director tomorrow!!

Comment By : mama bear is mad!

My daughter also was being bullied on twitter, and what happened is that she had enough and told the bully that if she wanted she could come bully her at lunch to her face, guess what the bully printed that part, and my child was suspended for standing up for herself. I strongly believe that the school administration are to blame for this. They help the bullies.

Comment By : appy20

Our son has been bullied for the last two years. Hard stuff. But he has persevered well. What has worked for us? 1. Sometimes, we have contacted a few parents of 'bullies'. We were gracious and gentle in how we communicated. They were appalled and more than anxious to deal with it themselves. 2. We tell him all the time how proud we are of how he's handled it. It's not hard to find adults who made it through similar situations and came out just fine. Some have shared their stories with him. It gives a kid hope. 3. We did free him up to protect himself (last resort). He's not really wired that way, but he felt very relieved to know that we had his back. He did square up to a kid just once and it ended it. But overall, he just deals with it by ignoring it. 4. We reward him REGULARLY for making it through another week or month or marking period. We go our for a donut or a movie, or I get him a book for his Nook (he loves to read). 5. We remind him that he can't read too much into things. Sometimes it "IS" just horsing around and not meant to be taken personally. 6. We've looked for outside opportunities for him to connect. Youth group, sports, cousins, clubs. 7. We've given up on the school. It's not that they don't care. And they have programs. What most administrators don't have is 'vision' and the ability to inspire greatness and character in kids. They really can't change the 'tone' of the school. Hard stuff. Hope some of this helps some folks. The article is excellent!

Comment By : FoodForThought

Saying Stop or walking away is USELESS advice. My oldest son was very small for his age, and was picked on mercilessly. These few horrible kids would steal his money (in front of the guidance counselor), take his homework, smash food on it and throw it away (in front of a teacher), follow him in the hallways during passing period, and hit him or stab him with pencils. He would come home bruised and bleeding. He kept telling me he fell in PE to cover the bruises, and I only found out about the other problems by accident. I went to the school administration. They were worse than useless. After a year of fighting a losing battle, I told my son that regardless of the consequences, he could fight back in whatever way he felt was going to be most effective (verbally or physically). I wrote letters to the principal, vice-principals, counselors and all of his teachers, detailing the torment he had endured (again), calling them on their complete lack of response and telling them what I had told him to do. After a year of torment, he fought back ONE time. He picked the biggest kid, and when he got punched during passing period, he turned around a punched the kid back. At that point one of the teachers broke it up. The teacher called me before sending the boys to the office. I reminded her of my letter, and she made the decision to not report the incident to the office. She spoke to both boys herself. After hitting back just ONE time, he was left alone. The bullies decided to move on to someone who wouldn't challenge them. I wish I had told him much sooner to fight back, since the school refused to even acknowledge there was a problem. It would have saved us all a lot of anguish.

Comment By : Fight Back Advocate

I found out a little more of the story about the abusive teacher last night. The REASON this teacher put his desk where it is? So he's on security tape all the time. She told him that he was a stupid, lazy brat and that she needed proof for when we (his parents) came to complain about his grades. His dad is meeting with the principal today. Next step? The top brass on the school board. What's sad is that for all the stories on here about standing up for themselves, sometimes kids just can't. They can't stand up to a teacher, or an administrator, or a bus driver. They aren't allowed to defend themselves. How many school administrators do you know who will take the words of a crying child over that of an indignant teacher?

Comment By : PO\'d Tiger Mom

* To: 'PO'd Tiger mom': I am sorry to hear your son is having a difficult time in his class this year. I can imagine it’s very painful for you to see your son being hurt the way he is in a place where he should be safe. How frustrating this situation must be. I am glad you have taken this to the school administration. That is an excellent first step. If you don’t feel this has been helpful, I would encourage you to continue advocating for your son by bringing it to the attention of the superintendent or the school board. You might also consider contacting the Depart of Education within your state to see if there is anything they would recommend as ways to address this issue. I would suggest you document any incidents where you feel your son was being bullied or mistreated by the teacher and continue to communicate this to the administration so they can see it is an ongoing issue. Sometimes, if you stop letting people know what is going on, they assume the situation has been resolved. I hope this helps. Good luck to you and your family as you work through this issue.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

To,"mama bear is mad",You would think that those in authority should have sense when it comes to dealing with children!! It causes enough trouble just trying to get through puberty, let alone having an "Adult"( and I use the word loosely)that behaves worse than a child! To much of this goes on and most of us turn a blind eye! Affraid to rock the boat and get involved, when thats what we should do! Its our responsability to help our children especially when they need us the most. Our son has had many "teachers" who have had this same problem, and we had several go rounds with each, needless to say we changed him out of that situation and put him into a more learning type of environment.So I know what you are saying ! Keep fighting for the good guys I applaude you!!!

Comment By : Moms Tired

I read a few responses before posting here. I am a mom of 5. We've dealt with bullying in many different areas. One of my eldest girls was in a violent dating relationship and we took police action to the point of a restraining order. Our school was a no tolerance school (charter school) and because several incidents occurred on school property they were able to remove him from the school. She was so into this boy that we had to put her on suicide watch afterwards. Things worked out for the best, but we had to send her to live with family out of state. This past school year my 10 year was a victim to bullying...by a teacher. I told her it was not acceptable and she has my support to stand up and tell him to stop. She witnessed this teacher bullying another student during class and felt the urge to speak up but didn't. she reported it to me after school and I immediately contacted the principal and informed the principal that my daughter has my backing to stand up and tell this teacher to "STOP!" and walk out, that she was to report to the office and not move until I got there. What are they going to do? Call me?? To my daughter's pleasure, the teacher was required to apologize to her. She told him, "Fine, but you embarrassed (student) in front of the class and you should apologize to him in front of the class." I was so proud of her!!! Now we have moved to a northern state, away from the western state's acceptance of my children's race. Immediately my middle daughter picked up racist comments, not just by students but by teachers! She has been there only a few weeks and has already stood up to one and amazingly the students here are learning to respect her for it. She has heard every kind of negative response from unimportant people but has also been told how pretty she is and how strong she is by new aquaintances that there is a balance. She even confronted the counselor who was dumbfounded by daughter's stern and honest speech about this new school. At the elementary level, my 10 year old was immediately hit by negative comments because of her tan skin. We approached to the teacher and I told him that this was unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated. The child that was bullying my daughter has since 'changed her behavior'. Perhaps that teacher did intervene. My children also ride a bus to school. My young son was being picked on. The bus driver contacted me personally and after a chat, I told my kids it was ok to tell her if there was an issue. My son informed her of the problem and the bullies are no longer on the bus. I agree, letting our kids know they are the most important thing in our lives and we will go to bat for them (or court) gives these kids the strength they need to make it through life. My next step: A conference with a high school principal to inform him that if a certain teacher has such a negative attitude about kids, it is time for that teacher to step out. No kid, bully or not, deserves to be told they are dumb, lazy, or irresponsible. A comment by an adult trickles down and encourages the abuse of others.

Comment By : Momagn5

I was bullied by my "friends" from 5th grade through 7th. I was too afraid to tell my family because I didn't want them to be ashamed of me or disappointed in me because I had 3 sisters who were more confident and out going. As an adult, I simply do not form close friendships with women. My son was being bullied in 5th through now 8th grade. It did make me sick, but I tried all the positive words etc to arm him to face these issues. Finally, Dad stepped in and told him to pound any kid who ever touched him in bullying. I was uncomfortable with this, but the vice principal at the school even said it was time for my son to take charge, being suspended from middle school is not the worst thing that could ever happen! She was right. What a victory when my son told a boy if he called him an x@#!* one more time, he was going to regret it. When the kid did later that day, my son gave him a shove that sent him to the ground. I was so proud that he finally stood up for himself. Some times the kids (boys) are so beaten down by this, they just feel powerless and depressed. It was a victory for him to stand up to a bully, and a turning point for all of us.

Comment By : hangingon

Some of these comments made me cry!! I haven't gotten to this point with my 8 yr. old as of yet. (thank god) But, he is a small boy for his age and often wonder what will be ahead. He has a very strong personality though so my concern is not so much that he will be bullied, but might try it on someone else!! Which I would NEVER stand for. I agree with those of you here that have encouraged your children to stand up for themselves and up to the bullies. Talk is cheap but most bullies will back off if and when their victims come back at them!! (if need be in a physical way) I would encourage the same for my boy! Standing up for ones self is a skill that will be used throughout their lives and I believe a valuable lesson!! Kudos to all you parents out there!!!

Comment By : Lioness Moma

Bullying is a serious problem and one which parents need be aware. Listen to what your child has to say, being a good listener is an important piece of your role when your child is being bullied. Most important thing parents can do is help build a strong sense of self and help your child feel good about himself by finding something he can do well.

Comment By : Julianna

i have a child that is being bullied tried to talk to the other parent about it! the other parent press charges against my child because hers has already been i trouble (on a diversion) this means if her child gets more trouble she could be sent off!! i had to take my child to talk to a lady designated worker she put my child on a diversion! they said they go by the first parent that comes in! i had my child school records and a witness statement and emails and other stuff, the lady would even look at it! after putting my child on this diversion for 4 months when my child was the one who got bullied there was nothing i could do to help her! these girl have bullied her every day after and now they have brought another girl in it and the girl threaten my child with the lunch tray! i reported to the designated worker every time something happened and my daughter has went to the vice principle every time they have bullied her but nothing seems to work! finally after i went back to the designated work and ask if i need to get a lawyer and i also know ky has a anti bulling law b 91 golden act rule, the lady had a strange look on her face and said i will talk to the county attorney and see what he says! called her back and now i can file harassment charges against the girls! after my child has went through this for 2 months! but every thing we did didnt work! finally they said i can file charges! i think this was sending the wrong message to all kids involve, my child it showed she could get bullied and nothing she did or i did could help,they can get by with it! it showed the other girls its ok for them to bully kids and they can get by with it! so is one to do when the system is so mest up!

Comment By : shmilydawn

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