Many of us have memories of childhood bullies that made our lives, or the lives of someone we knew, miserable.  As many of you have learned from the news, bullying is more prevalent now than ever.  Bullying is not a single or occasional incident, but is defined as a series of incidents in which one child picks on another child.  Some signs that your child may be a victim of bullying include;

 1. Perpetual upset stomach;

2. A sudden desire to stay home from school;

3. Asking for a ride to school if he or she usually walks or takes a bus;

4. Noticeable loss of self-confidence;

5. Onset of moodiness or depression;

6. Skipping class;

7. Missing lunch money or other personal items, and/or;

8. Bruises, aches and pains that he or she doesn’t want to discuss

 If you believe that your child is the victim of a bully you can and should help.  If it’s happening at school or if the bully is a student at the school, contact your child’s school to report him or her.  Schools these days have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullies and will vigorously seek to resolve the problem.

 Discuss with your child how they should react to the bully.  Tears will often make a bully feel more powerful. Advise them that while they should not have to hide or change their normal routine, it’s a good idea to avoid contact with a bully when possible.  Don’t tell your child to fight back as it could cause an escalation of violence.  Instead, tell them to get away from the situation and report the incident to a school official, to you, or to another responsible adult at the location where the bullying occurred.

 Remember that many bullies today have access to your home via the computer and your child’s cell phone.  Cyber-bullying is very prevalent with tweens and teens.  Block or don’t respond to an online bully.  Keep the computer in a family area of the house, not a bedroom, and monitor what your child is doing online.  Report to the school or appropriate official any cyber-bullying you become aware of.