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With Bullying, What's a Parent to Do?
Date:11/26/2012

too. If the bullying is occurring online, the child might stop participating in favorite online activities.

Some signs are more obvious, such as unexplained bruising, torn clothing, missing items -- such as books, electronics or jewelry -- and noticeable changes in eating habits. For instance, bullying experts say that kids might eat a great deal when coming home from school because they didn't eat lunch because of some type of bullying.

"If you notice behavioral changes -- a previously happy child now seems sullen, angry and upset -- ask what's going on," Rauzi said. "Don't take the standard 'Nothing' or 'I'm fine' response. One of the reasons that young people don't tell adults what's going on is that they don't think anything will happen."

Ideally, parents will have had discussions about bullying with their children before it occurs, Gardner said. "When children are going off to a new school or a sleep-away camp, or they're showing an increased interest in going online, be open and honest with them about the things that could happen," he said. "Tell them when it's appropriate to speak up and who to tell. If you have that talk, and review it when school starts, it helps to encourage the lines of communication."

Knowing what steps to take to stop a bully can be somewhat trickier. For starters, kids often don't want their parents to get involved at all.

In this case, Gardner said, let the child know that you're glad he or she told you what was going on and that you'd like to talk about what your child has done to try to reduce the bullying behavior. Help the child assess whether those steps are working, and let your child know that anytime it becomes overwhelming, you're willing to step in.

He suggests asking your child what he or she thinks the next steps should be if the bullying doesn't subside. Does your child want to talk to a counselor? Would he or she like to have both sets of parents and children meet with school officia
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