Dealing with school bullies

August 18, 2011

Surveys show as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years.

Fortunately there are tips on how to spot whether your child is the victim of bullying, and what you can do about it.

Getting a child ready for school means more than new shoes, a backpack, and a lunch box, it is also an important time to prepare a child emotionally, as well.

"Bullying has become more prevalent, and the reason I say that is because we now have cyber bullying," says Dr. Yuma Tomes.

Dr. Yuma Tomes, a school psychologist and professor at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, says bullies aren't just limited to the schoolyard anymore, and kids of any age or place can fall victim.

But there are signs adults can look for.

For teachers, is the student engaged in activities, or is he or she withdrawn? Bullied kids tend to isolate themselves.

For parents, do your children make friends in class? And what kind of information do they share about their school contacts?

"If you hear a student mentioning a name over and over again, and when they mention that name, anxiety begins to rise in that student, that also could be an indicator," said Dr. Tomes.

These days, kids from toddlers to high schoolers are "wired" to the electronic world in their classrooms and in their social lives.

But parents should keep an eye on how the technology is being used. It could be a sign of cyber bullying.

"When your son or daughter arrives home, do they automatically go to their computer, or go to the cell phone, and being doing things devoid of human contact?" says Dr. Tomes.

Dr. Tomes says now is the time to set the tone for the school year to let your children know you are by their side.

And, parents shouldn't feel like they are interfering. A parent's job is to be a guardian.

If you think your child is being bullied, document any suspicious type events, or changes in your child's emotions & behavior. Then go to the school principal.

"One of the ways you can craft this is, 'because I want the best for my son as far as his or her academic ability. This may by impeding their ability to learn,'" explains Dr. Tomes.

There are more tips and advice for parents on kids who are bullied, and on those who are doing the bullying on the Back-to-School channel.

Tune in to Action News at 11, for a story of one of the most severe cases of bullying. A Montgomery County girl was physically assaulted by two classmates, then taunted and bullied, after she reported the crime.

It is a shocking case of confrontation and cyber bullying that has lasted for several years. We'll tell you how the girl's school responded, and how she was helped.

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