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Put a Stop to Teen Bullying

As headlines continue to flash reports on teen bullying, teen suicides, and school shootings, parents can't help but wonder, "How can kids be so mean to each other?" It's an age old question--after all, bullying is nothing new--and there doesn't seem to be an answer, but there are ways parents can help prevent it. The ability to protect themselves against bullies and bullying in school is quickly becoming a must-know skill set for all teens. Here are a few tips you can talk to your teens about to help them deal with bullies.

Bullying Prevention

Talk with your teen about bullying, even if they haven't been bullied before or you don't think they're at risk for it. Spreading awareness about bullying is often the number one way to put an end to it. Besides talking about bullying, you can teach your child how to deal with one:

  • Ignore. Sometimes walking away is a lot harder than sticking around, but tell your child that walking away is by no means a cowardly response. Shouting, arguing, or making a scene is just fueling the bully's anger and asking for more trouble.
  • Self-confidence. Help your child build up her self-confidence. Encourage her to get involved in extracurricular activities or sports, even those that aren't sponsored by her school. Exercise has been proven to release feel-good hormones and help build self-esteem.
  • Anger. Encourage your child to release her anger about being bullied in a positive way. Maybe she can try running, write in a journal, or drawing to vent her own frustration. Letting off some steam positively is always better than keeping emotions bottled up.
  • Friendship. Encourage your child to build friendships that are supportive. Good friends can help your child by saying, "I didn't believe that rumor," "No-one thinks that's true," etc.
  • Support. Make sure you comfort your child as well. Ask her about her day (even if it seems to annoy her). Although your child might not give you the response you want to hear, at least she'll know you care and are always there to listen.

Bullying in Schools

There's no denying it, middle school and high school can seem like war zones. Build an open and honest line of communication with your child so she feels she can come to you if she's being picked on. If the situation continues to escalate, you may have to reach out to school officials, but try discussing this move with your child before getting the school involved, so she doesn't feel as if you went behind her back. Remember, it's more important to be a parent than a best friend.