Your Child Bullied in School? Know Your Options

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Reportedly 1 in 3 students are victims of bullying.  What is bullying?  Bullying is defined as “intentionally aggressive, usually repeated” verbal, social or physical behavior aimed at a specific person or group of people. 83 percent of girls and 79 percent of boys report being bullied either in school or online.  I still remember the first time I was bullied in school.  I was in 6th grade at Lincoln Elementary School in Chicago.  I don’t recall a week that went by when a classmate sitting next to me wouldn’t push my chair to the ground after we all lifted our chairs on top of our desks as we were instructed to do before the school bell rung for dismissal.  The bully would make sure the teacher wasn’t looking before he made his move.  I never told on him because I was afraid he’d bully me even more.  That’s the same reason why most students who are bullied never report incidents to their teacher.  What I clearly remember of that experience is how I felt; more insecure, less confident and fearful. That was 36 years ago and yet I still remember how I felt.  I never talked to my brother or parents about it because we didn’t have that kind of relationship where I felt comfortable talking about my struggles.   Many of you can probably relate to my story, whether you’re young or old.  At school is where the majority of bullying occurs.  So parents, consider using these tips to help you determine if your child is being bullied: *Take every opportunity that allows you one-on-one time with your child to communicate.   *Routinely ask your child if he likes school.  If your child consistently says he “hates” school, go deeper for details.  Does he hate the academics?  Does he not like his teachers?  Figure out the source of your child’s attitude toward school.   *Listen more and speak less.   *Allow your child more freedom when they talk to you.  *Be open to talking at any time and consider talking while driving.   Your child may feel less intimidated because he or she doesn’t have to look directly at you.    *Always know who your child’s friends are.  If he answers, “I have no friends,” that is a major red flag. *If your child confides in you that he’s being pushed around, do not minimize, rationalize or explain away the experience. *Watch what your child is doing on the Web and check on his cell phone.  Privacy ends where your child’s safety begins. Don’t hesitate to reach out to anti-bullying organizations created to help parents and victims of bullying as well as your school’s counselors. 

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