Niagara Gazette — A recent study showed that boys who are school bullies in grades six through nine had at least one criminal conviction by age 24.
Anyone can be a victim of bullying. As a parent or educator, there are warning signs to look for:
• Sudden decline in a child’s school performance;
• A sudden change in friendship groups;
• School absenteeism;
• The loss of school or personal items (more so than normal);
• Unexplained bruises or torn clothing sustained during school hours.
If you suspect a child is a victim of bullying, it’s important to maintain open lines of communication and contact school officials.
It may be tempting to tell the child to fight back. However, it’s important to advise children not to respond to bullying by fighting or bullying back. This improper form of retaliation can quickly escalate into violence, trouble and someone getting hurt.
Instead, children should know it’s best to walk away from the situation, hang out with others, and tell an adult. Encourage children to: Try to always avoid the bully and use the “buddy” system; control his/her anger, and walk away from the presence of a bully; tell an adult — a parent, teacher or school administrator; and share openly with others. Tell someone you trust, such as a counselor, teacher, parent, or friend, what’s happening.
Strong partnerships between schools, the Mental Health Association of Niagara County and parents are the key to stopping bullying.
Together we must step up so others don’t get stepped on.
Douglas Luke is a member of the Mental Health Association in Niagara County Inc.’s board of directors.Douglas Luke is a member of the Mental Health Association in Niagara County Inc.'s board of directors.