BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – According to one statistic, about 20% of U.S. school children between the ages of 12-18 experienced bullying.

Bullying is commonly defined as repeated acts of aggression against someone with lesser social status or physical strength. It can take on various forms, from posting unkind things about a classmate on social media so as to ruin their reputation, to repeatedly physically assaulting another student.

As the start of a new school year approaches in East Baton Rouge Parish (EBR), some parents may have questions about what they can do to prepare their children to face situations involving school bullies. 

Fortunately, experts agree that parents can help to prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.

Listed below are suggestions related to ways parents can broach the subject with children. 

Define bullying and explain why bullies hurt people

Kids need to understand that people who bully typically feel a need for power and control over others. This may be due to a lack of self-esteem, or another emotional issue. In any case, they often lack self-control, empathy, and sensitivity. 

Children also need to know what kinds of behaviors constitute bullying, so spell these out. 

Then, teach children what to do if they see someone being bullied or experience it themselves. This may include teaching them to tell the bully to stop in a firm yet calm voice, or even disarming the bully with humor by laughing at their threats and walking away.

Of course, one of the best solutions is typically to leave the situation and tell both a school official and parent what happened.

Role-play “what if” situations

Act out “what if” scenarios involving bullying that might occur on campus. This can not only impress on your child the steps they can take to navigate the situation but instill a sense of confidence and empowerment in them.  

Encourage your child to treat bullies with respect yet firmness

Teach your child to speak in a strong, firm voice, stand tall, and maintain eye contact. When children present themselves as unshakable, they become less vulnerable to a bully. 

Remind your child that they can always come to you for help

When talking to kids about bullying, use a calm, friendly tone and create a nurturing climate so they aren’t afraid to tell you if something’s wrong. Make sure they know that their safety and well-being are your main concern and that they can talk to you about anything at all. 

Children can successfully face challenging situations involving school bullies with preparation and continued guidance and support.

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