Harassment. Intimidation. Bullying. These are words bandied about at most PTA meetings and school functions. Many districts are attempting to get a handle on the growing problem of bullying and its devastating effects. News stories pops up every week about kids as young as 10 attempting suicide to resolve bad situations at school, extracurricular activities, and social situations.

What can we do to help? 

Limit your children’s time on social media sites and monitor comments. Social media has connected both youth and adults like never before. Unfortunately, people hide behind the anonymity of a social media site to make bold and often hurtful statements. Children often do not realize that their comments have devastating effects until it is too late.  

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Check in with your children daily. Make sure they are doing well in school academically, but also getting along in social situations. Lunch and recess are particularly difficult when unstructured time gives students a chance to exclude others. If you suspect a problem, contact your child’s school immediately to get help.

Encourage your child to include others whenever possible and make new friends. Sitting alone or being left on the sidelines ruin any child’s day.  Play dates are great ways for children to get to know each other while still being supervised by adults.

Older children can take advantage of community programs that teach about healthy relationships and how to safeguard your child online. Girl Scouts offers a program each year called “REACH” that explains what to look for in a healthy relationship with peers. An adult program is offered while the teens are being guided through exercises that tell what they can do to help themselves or friends in abusive relationships.

Be present and be there for anyone who is struggling. The best thing we can do for each other is be supportive and be kind.