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  • Writer's pictureDallas Shepard

Bullying and the Brain

Bullying find it, face it and stop it

Physical bullying

Bullying can be in person or with technology

When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior, they send the message that it is not acceptable. Do: Intervene immediately. It is ok to get another adult to help. Separate the kids involved. Make sure everyone is safe. Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs. Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders.Model respectful behavior when you intervene.

Avoid these common mistakes:

Don’t ignore it. Don’t think kids can work it out without adult help. Don’t immediately try to sort out the facts.Don’t force other kids to say publicly what they saw.Don’t question the children involved in front of other kids.Don’t talk to the kids involved together, only separately.Don’t make the kids involved apologize or patch up relations on the spot.


Talk with your kids about cyber bullying and other online issues regularly.Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with. Tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern.Have a sense of what they do online and in texts. Learn about the sites they like. Try out the devices they use.Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyber bullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.

Support kids who are bullied

Listen and focus on the child. Learn what’s been going on and show you want to help.Assure the child that bullying is not their fault.Know that kids who are bullied may struggle with talking about it. Consider referring them to a school counselor, psychologist, or other mental health service.Give advice about what to do. This may involve role-playing and thinking through how the child might react if the bullying occurs again. Work together to resolve the situation and protect the bullied child. The child, parents, and school or organization may all have valuable input. Be persistent. Bullying may not end overnight. Commit to making it stop and consistently support the bullied child. Avoid these mistakes:Never tell the child to ignore the bullying. Do not blame the child for being bullied. Do not tell the child to physically fight back against the kid who is bullying. It could get the child hurt, suspended, or expelled.Parents should resist the urge to contact the other parents involved. School or other officials can act as mediators between parents.

Addressing bullying behavior

Parents, school staff, and organizations all have a role to play. Make sure the child knows what the problem behavior is. Young people who bully must learn their behavior is wrong and harms others. Show kids that bullying is taken seriously. Calmly tell the child that bullying will not be tolerated. Work with the child to understand some of the reasons he or she bullied. For example:Sometimes children bully to fit in. These kids can benefit from participating in positive activities. Involvement in sports and clubs can enable them to take leadership roles and make friends without feeling the need to bully.Other times kids act out because of something else—issues at home, abuse, stress—is going on in their lives. They also may have been bullied. These kids may be in need of additional support, such as mental health services. Zero tolerance or “three strikes, you’re out” strategies don’t work. Suspending or expelling students who bully does not reduce bullying behavior. Students and teachers may be less likely to report and address bullying if suspension or expulsion is the consequence.Conflict resolution and peer mediation don’t work for bullying. Bullying is not a conflict between people of equal power who share equal blame. Facing those who have bullied may further upset kids who have been bullied. Group treatment for students who bully doesn’t work. Group members tend to reinforce bullying behavior in each other.Courtesy: www.thebullyproject.com. This site has a huge amount of information about bullying, how to prevent it and how to deal with it.

Preparing your Child for a new school

Knowing as much in advance is the key: Attend the school orientation together. Know where the key areas of the school are: Bathrooms, cafeteria and auditorium, the first classroom. If schools assign a ‘buddy’ to assist your child during the first few days or weeks, then sign up for it. Knowing where things are and how the school works should alleviate some of your child’s fears.Sign up for extracurricular activities your child will enjoy or has some talent in. If they know they can shine at some-thing, it will give them confidence.Talk about it with your children: Whether your child is worried about making new friends, losing touch with old ones, or simply finding their locker on the first day of school, odds are you can help.Remind your children about other (successful) “first times” they’ve experienced in their lives and how well they handled them.Find any excuse to socialize. Social-izing on home turf is often easier for kids and socializing one-on-one can be less intimidating than trying to break into a new group. Hosting a party is a great way to ingratiate oneself with a crowd. Be patient. It can take weeks for things to settle down. If after six months your child is still very unsettled, you should talk to your child’s teacher and the school counselor. Finally: If your child is an existing student, ask them to help a new kid at the school by making an effort to welcome them and see if they are OK, or need any help.

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