USU Extension offers tips for parents about bullying

“Bullying has been with us forever, this isn’t anything new,” said Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor Kathy Riggs, “and parents aren’t always aware that their son or daughter may be dealing with it. “Youth are really good at hiding their feelings but a parent that is aware of the moods of their child can pick up on their son or daughter who is hesitant to go to school. They might show evidence of physical bullying, there might be bruises or other signs they may have bullied at school.” Riggs said open communication between parents and children is important; otherwise such information may never surface. “Research indicates parents are among the last people a youth will inform when they have been bullied at school.” Riggs said physical bullying is what we hear most about. But there is more to the story. “There have even been movies made about girls that are the ‘mean girls’ who become adept at the emotional side of bullying, which can be anything from leaving a person out of a group to actually humiliating them in public with their remarks.” Advancing technology now makes possible cyber-bullying. “That is growing in popularity,” said Riggs. “With electronic devices in the hands of our young people they are not only being used for positive social media interaction but also instant texting messages can go out to hundreds of people and either tell untruths or pick on someone with whom they have differences.” Riggs said threatened or attempted suicide is one of the common results of bullying. “It’s been proven bullying can cause depression in young people, or cause them to have low self esteem. Another indication of bullying is that a youth will suddenly begin to get poor grades.” Riggs said there are skills parents can teach their children. “You can help them practice positive self talk, helping them ignore the bullying by telling themselves ‘that’s really not how I am.’ You can teach your child how to not be embarrassed about being bullied; that’s one of the reasons they don’t talk to other adults, because they are embarrassed about it. They need to be taught how to be able to share, with a trusted adult, that they are being victimized.”

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