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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Is It Bullying?

Question: There is so much talk about bullying lately and I suspect that my 10 year old son is a victim.  I have even witnessed other kids talking to him in a way that I think is bullying.  However, whenever I ask him about it, he just says he is fine and walks away.  Should I leave it alone or pursue it further?
                                                  -Darlene Sintece, Bayside, NY

Answer: As you mentioned Darlene, bullying has come into the public eye recently and rightfully so.  A large number of kids are suffering every day at the hands of their peers and this often leads to all kinds of mental health concerns as well as academic and physical health issues. 

Often (25-50% of the time), a child that is being bullied will not tell adults either because he or she is afraid or embarrassed of the child doing the bullying, being accused of tattling, or doesn’t think the adult will take the concern seriously.  On the other hand, it may be helpful to continue observing your child so that you can reach a level of certainty regarding the bullying.

Because your son is denying that any bullying is going on, obviously it would be very difficult to discuss with him why the bullying is happening or what to do about it.  However, there are other things that you can do to help your son be more resilient in the face of bullying.  Introduce your son to new friends and encourage him to pursue talents and activities that he is good at.  Building his self-esteem can help counteract and prevent future negative effects of bullying.

To help you address this further, you might want to look into other supportive resources such as www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov.

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