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You cannot stop every instance of bullying before it happens. However, by being aware of different signs and ways bullying can happen, you may be able to stop it the first time it happens and prevent the bully from bothering your child again. The key is to be proactive regarding all incidents of bullying.
Bullies are repeat offenders who feed off their victims’ reactions. Once the process has begun, they will test the waters to see what happens when they engage in these bullying behaviors. They may start small, stealing your child’s backpack and pass it around to others, call them names or tease them to see what they will do.
If nothing happens and they are not called on the carpet for their actions, they may step up the behaviors to something worse, such as hitting your child or threatening physical violence.
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No Means No
Stopping this behavior before it becomes worse is essential. Teach your child to tell the bully they are going to report them the first time something happens. Make sure you and your child are ready to take whatever actions necessary to ensure that the kids who committed the bullying are punished for their behaviors.
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Be Aware of Policies and Laws
As a parent, one of the best things you can do is learn your school district’s policies on bullying. Get a copy of the district handbook and refer to it whenever your child reports that someone in school has bullied him.
If an incident takes place off-campus, it is not an issue for the school (and most schools will tell you that). They will say, “There is nothing we can do,” and they are right.
However, there IS something the police can do. Legally, when bullying lands off-campus, it becomes the jurisdiction of local law enforcement. You can report anything serious, such as harassment, threatening, physically attacking or other behaviors, to law enforcement for action. This includes acts of cyberbullying, including instant messaging abuse, online inappropriate communications and many others.
It is also notable that much anti-bullying legislation is instigated at the state level, so it is important to know your state laws regarding bullying.
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The Importance of Taking a Stand
Regardless of the type of bullying, who did it or where it occurred, the key to stopping it is to take direct action against it the very first time it happens. The longer bullying is allowed to go on, the harder it is to stop it.
In addition, bullying tends to build and increase over time. It can even escalate into criminal acts, such as criminal mischief and life-threatening acts. The bully, like the victim, needs help. Such behavior is mentally unhealthy.
Bullying is a national problem, but we must all start at the local level to fight it whenever it rears its ugly head, so that kids will not ever have to live in fear of a bully.