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Protecting Your Child From Bullies

What can parents do to prevent their children from getting bullied? Tell your children to walk or play with friends, not alone, and to avoid alleys and empty buildings, especially after dark. Make a list with the child as to where they are allowed to go, and places/phone numbers where they can get help.

Know your child's friends and make sure that everyone understands your view of teasing and violence. Maintain a trusting, open communication with your child while teaching him/her to be both strong and kind.

If your child is a victim, he needs to know that he's ok, and not the one with the problem. Have him tell his school guidance counselor the name of the bully who is victimizing him. Or you might try talking to the principal or his teachers directly. And if you know the parents of the bully, you might try confronting them as well. However, there's a good chance they'll either be in denial, or be as unconcerned as their child.

If physical abuse is the problem, and you're afraid of angering the bully (revenge), tell the teacher, or whomever, not to pass on your or your child's name while settling the situation unless it's absolutely necessary. There's a good chance he's victimizing other children as well, and won't need to know exactly who busted him.

Children who use violence to resolve conflicts, grow up to be adults who use violence to resolve conflicts. However, if a child is backed up against a wall, or into a corner, then he obviously needs to defend himself and should not stand there while getting pounded. He could walk (or run) away. But in order to escape conflict in the first place, the child should ignore, or avoid the bully. Don't play with (or for older kids "hang out" with) the bullies, and don't play or hang out "near" them. Teach your child to only fight back if he/she *needs* to defend himself - - as a last resort.

Young people need to believe in themselves in order to feel better. (self-esteem) Not by winning a fight, or even being part of a fight that he/she didn't initiate. In order to be a strong person, you have to learn what to say at the right time, and believe in what you are saying. ("I won't fight you because it is wrong" or "This isn't what friendship is about") Walking away from the fight, knowing you are the *better* person, is a lot healthier for the body and mind.

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If verbal abuse is the problem, your child could try confronting the bully himself. Get him alone. Bullies like to show off by embarrassing you in front of a group of people. They might not be so tough without a crowd. Tell your child to be firm, stick up for himself, and tell the bully, "I don't like what you're doing to me, and I want you to stop."

If the child is old enough to reason, have him tell the bully how it feels to be bullied. Don't stress what the bully did, or the accusations might make him defensive. Then he'd be less likely to listen. If he's willing to listen at all, he might be willing to change. However, if he's unwilling to listen and starts getting nasty, your child is better off staying away from him, or ignoring him. But if his verbal abuse turns into threats, notify someone in authority.

Sometimes having things/property stolen victimizes a child. Putting your child's name on everything is an important thing to do. This means each and every crayon! It also helps to not allow him/her to take things of any major importance or value to school. Again, if nothing else works, have the bully reported.

For the past 10 years child on child violence has been increasing. Physical abuse, sexual harassment and robbery have driven many victims to substance abuse or suicide.

Kathy Noll has written a series of articles on bullies and how to deal with bullies.

If you'd like to learn more about bully and self-esteem issues, purchase Kathy Knoll's book: Taking The Bully By The Horns.

next: Help For Parents and Teachers On Dealing With Bullies and School Violence