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By AJ Murphy

What is bullying?

Bullying is never OK. It can be verbal, physical or even happen online. Bullying happens when one person or a group of people takes advantage of a weaker person or group. Sometimes, kids play rough, fight or even tease each other. But if this happens repeatedly, it’s considered bullying. Bullies will pick on the same kid over and over again. They try to scare and control a kid until they get what they want.

How can I tell if my child is being bullied?

Talk to your child right away if you think they’re being bullied. Some signs to look out for include:

  • Injuries that can’t be explained
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, electronics or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomachaches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating — kids may come home from school hungry from not eating lunch
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves or talking about suicide

How can I help my child deal with bullying?

Communication is key. Talk with your child and let them explain what’s happening. Let them know that they did the right thing by talking to an adult that they trust. Tell them there are things they can do to try to stop the situation like:

  • Tell a teacher or another guardian what’s going on
  • Directly and confidently tell the bully to “stop”
  • Walk away if the bully doesn’t stop
  • Stand near an adult or another group of kids

If your child doesn’t feel comfortable doing these things, you can help them. Raise awareness of the problem. You can talk to:

  • Other parents and see if this problem is affecting their kids as well
  • The people in charge of the place where the bullying happens
  • The bully’s parents — try to set up a time where you and your children can sit down and talk about their differences

Don’t let your child get bullied. These websites can teach you more about dealing with bullies:

About the author

AJ Murphy is an evocative young writer who grew up in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood. AJ began his writing career at Alaska Ice Rinks Inc. in Anchorage, AK, where he also drove a Zamboni and took care of outdoor hockey rinks.

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