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.
Bullying booksWant to help kids learn about bullying? These books on bullying offer different perspectives on what it is and how hurtful it can be.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. Ages 5 to 8. $16.99. 32 pages. This picture book is about a girl who is continually mean to a new student in her class. Months later, the teacher talks to the entire class about kindness, but is it too late for the girl to learn a lesson?
Bully by Patricia Polacco. Ages 8 to 13. $17.99. 48 pages. Lyla is a middle-schooler who is caught between a group of cheerleaders and her new best friend, Jamie, who is teased by the girls. When Lyla stands up for her friend, the cheerleaders want revenge.
How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath. For age 3 and older. $16.95. 32 pages. Felix’s grandfather explains that being happy and self-confident is like having a full bucket of water. When someone is mean to you, she is dipping into your bucket. Felix finds out how to fill others’ buckets while filling his own. Marshall Elementary in Manassas, Va., used this book as the basis for a play.
My Secret Bully, by Trudy Ludwig and Abigail Marble. Age 5 and older. $15.99. 32 pages. Monica and Katie have been friends for several years, but Katie sometimes embarrasses Monica in front of their classmates. Monica eventually tells her mom, who helps her deal with the problem.
Bystander Power, by Phyllis Kaufman Goodstein and Elizabeth Verdick. Ages 8 to 13. $8.95. 128 pages. This book isn’t a story. Instead, it’s a tool for kids on how to change from a bystander to an upstander, someone who speaks up when he or she sees bullying. Cartoon characters explain different kinds of bullying and test readers knowledge. The book is colorful, easy to read and gives a lot of helpful advice, but it doesn’t emphasize that an adult should be told about all bullying situations.
Avoid bullyingHate. Hahaha. Ugly. Nerd. Loner. Terrible. Loser. Gross. Stupid. Go away. Dumb. Fat. Ugh. Big.
Here’s a way everyone can avoid bullying.
If you are tempted to say something that might hurt someone’s feelings, stop and THINK about these questions:
T – Is it True?
H – Is it Helpful?
I – What would I want someone to say to or about me?
N – Is it Necessary?
K – Is it Kind?