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Pediatric Associates of Livingston

Safety at School


Bullying is a problem that can have tragic consequences. Fortunately it has received a lot of attention in the media in recent years. Unfortunately, it remains a far too common part of life for many children and adolescents. In one study of Midwestern junior high school students, 80% of students reported being bullied at least once a month that varied   from name calling and  verbal threats to physical violence. While some adults dismiss bullying as “just a   part of childhood” it can result in   long-­‐term   problems for   both   the bully and   their victim and should never be tolerated.

Facts about bullying

  • Both girls and boys can be bullies
  • Bullies target children who cry, get mad, or easily give in to them
  • Bullies try to control children by scaring them
  • Bullying usually happens when other children are watching, often outside of the classroom

How to help your child avoid being bullied

Because bullies victimize those they see as isolated or weak, help your child become a less likely target by teaching them the following:

  • Tell your child not to react to the bully, particularly by giving into their demands. A bully likes   to see their victim become   upset or cry. The   power to provoke   that response   reinforces   bullying   behavior. Teach   your child   to   keep   their composure and   simply walk away.
  • If walking away or ignoring a bully does not work, your child should become assertive. Standing tall, looking the bully in the eye and making a strong, clear statement like “stop doing that now!” lets the bully know that your child is not a easy, weak target.   For many   children,   this is not an easy thing   to do. Practice   at home, so that in the   heat of the   moment   your   child will be more comfortable taking an assertive stance with a bully.
  • Help your child form strong friendships. A child who has loyal friends is less likely to be singled   out by a bully. There are a lot of activities your child   can   participate in   from team sports to   clubs that   can help them develop social skills and the self-­‐confidence   that comes   with   mastering something they enjoy.
  • If a bully situation persists, talk to your child’s   teacher or principal. When school officials know about a   situation, they can   become involved   and   help   end   it. While you   may be reluctant to   get involved, for fear of embarrassing your child, remember your child deserves to feel   safe   at school.

When to suspect bullying

Many children are embarrassed about being the victim of a bully and   will be reluctant to   tell their   parents about it. It can   be helpful to   ask questions such   as “how are things going at school?”,   “What   do you think   of the other kids in your class?”,   or more directly “does anyone get picked   on   at   school?” Other signs that a   child is being   bullied include   not wanting   to go to school or an activity,   having   difficulty paying attention   at school, being unusually sad   or moody, or developing symptoms   like   headaches or stomach   aches.

What to do when your child is the   bully

If you find out your child is a bully get involved right away to help change their behavior.  In the long term, childhood bullies are   at increased risk of continuing to have   problems when they become   adults.

  • Set firm and consistent limits on aggressive   behavior. Be   sure   your child knows that bullying   is NEVER okay.
  • Be a positive role model. All children   can   learn   to   treat others with   respect. Demonstrate to your   child that there are other ways   of getting what they want without teasing,   threatening or hurting someone.
  • Help your child understand how their behavior affects others. Give real examples of good and bad   results of their actions.


As digital technology and   social media continue to   evolve, it is no surprise that bullying   has also gone   online. Cyberbullying is particularly challenging because the bullies are often   harder to   identify and   stop   than offline bullies. Signs that   your   child is affected by cyberbullying include becoming unusually   upset or withdrawn   after using the computer or cell phone. Unusual computer activity such   as switching   screens   when you walk into the room or multiple log-ins   that you don’t   recognize are also signs   your child may   be involved in cyberbullying.

If you find out your child is being cyberbullied, save all e-­‐mails,   instant messages and text messages. If   the situation gets to the point   that   the police need to get   involved, they will use this information to   track down   the IP address to   find   the bully. While it is very likely that your child knows the cyberbully,   tracking down   the IP address is important because there have been   cases of mistaken   identity in   cyberbullying.