Bullying in schools appears to be a problem that will never go away.
But it doesn’t just stop there. Kids can face bullies at home, on the playground and in team sports. So giving your child the tools he or she needs to help deal with a bully can make their life less stressful and happier.
Jennifer Lutz, a coordinator for Pyramid for Success at Fort Wayne Community Schools and a former guidance counselor, says while she has not seen an increase in bullying, she has heard from more parents who want to know how to handle it.
Lutz says bullying and aggression are becoming more mainstream, and kids are being exposed to it through different media, such as TV.
She says the first thing a child should know is to tell somebody, either a classroom teacher or parent, if they are being bullied.
Parents should have a talk with their child and tell them to be assertive – not argumentative – when dealing with a bully, expressing that they don’t like whatever action, whether it be name calling or hitting, that just occurred, Lutz says. She says kids should practice conversations with a bully, using I statements such as I don’t like what you are doing.
Lutz suggests such resources as the American Academy of Pediatrics website at www.healthychildren.org to help parents talk to their children about bullying.
Other sites that offer help in bullying prevention:
A federal website called Stop Bullying has animated videos and games and a page for parents. ( www.stopbullying.gov/kids)
Nickelodeon’s The Big Help offers tips to prevent bullying and a news special for middle-school kids. ( www.nick.com/thebighelp/anti-bullying)
Pacer Center’s site, Kids Against Bullying, features cartoon characters who have been bullied, who bully other kids or who have been bystanders. There are games and puzzles, a gallery of kids’ anti-bullying posters, and stories and poems written by kids. (www.pacerkidsagainstbullying.org)
PBS Kids’ website features the Beat the Bully game, which elementary school kids might like. (pbskids.org/itsmylife/games/bullies_flash.html)
The Washington Post contributed to this story.