Date: 10/25/2012

With the new school year in full swing, our focus changes from purchasing new supplies, to ensuring that our children are completing assignments, studying for tests, and developing friendships. Once the nuts and bolts of homework are completed, the opportunity arises for meeting people, making new friends, and playing with old friends.

As many parents know, navigating the social situations that present themselves with children can be tricky even on a good day. If a child is a target of meanness or, worse yet, continued bullying, going to school becomes a horror. Bullying can take several forms. Most adults understand bullying to be physical confrontation. According to, bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.

Today, bullying can become an even more pervasive problem. With the explosion of the internet and social networking, cyber bullying is becoming an epidemic. One aspect of cyber-bullying that makes it worse than the in-school bullying is that is pervades the child’s entire world. There is no escaping it. Where the comfort of home used to be an escape from the bullying for children in the past, now even if the child is in his or her room their space can be invaded with the torment of hurtful comments.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) website, “bullying can be a gateway behavior, teaching the perpetrator that threats and aggression are acceptable even in adulthood.” The NCPC has a page dedicated to bullying with great information and a variety of resources for parents, teachers, and students. Visit their website at

The best way for parents to help with this problem is to teach their children how to be kind to everyone they meet. The best approach for this lesson is modeling behavior that you expect from your child. Children watch their parents for cues about how to behave in certain situations. If you model accepting, kind behavior, your child will follow suit.

Of course, this will not cure the bullying epidemic overnight, so how can you help your child if they are confronted by a bully, or witness someone else being bullied? In addition to the National Crime Prevention Council, there are many organizations dedicated to stopping the rise in bullying and cyber-bullying that we currently experience.

The Pacer Center is a parent center for families of children and young adults with disabilities. Along with the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education, the NEA, and the National PTA, the PACER Center sponsors bullying prevention month. is designed to help parents identify what is bullying, who is at risk, how to prevent it and respond to it, and also, how to get helpVisit their website at for ideas to help your child deal with this issue. Of particular interest to FIRST members is the link at the bottom of the page with information about ‘Bullying and Youth with Disabilities and Special Health Needs.’ There is a wonderful tip sheet on this page with information about what you can do to help your child.

As a parent, another way to stay informed about bullying is to attend any informational programs or seminars that are held in your school or school district. Even when you think you have heard all of the tips and know what to do, these seminars can offer a new idea or something that you may not have known. Mr. John Halligan, who lost is son Ryan as a result of bullying, travels the country hosting seminars about bullying, how to recognize it, and most importantly how to learn the signs that your child is being bullied. Visit his website for detailed information about the presentation and also for a schedule of Mr. Halligan’s appearances across the country.

The most important thing you can do to help your child is to be informed on this issue.

If your child is experiencing any type of bullying, please visit one of the websites provided, or talk to the school counselors for guidance on how to work through this problem.
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