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How to talk to your kids about bullying

Childhood advocate says parents and educators need to do more to teach students how to solve their own conflicts before the situation escalates.

PHOENIX — October 13 is National Stop Bullying Day. 

Kids these days are under a lot of pressure, and trouble in the classroom can follow a child online.

Katey McPherson – a childhood advocate with 25 years of experience in education – said parents and educators need to do more to teach students how to solve their own conflicts before the situation escalates.

What exactly is bullying

“There’s teasing which is among friends. Someone says, ‘knock it off,' and they do.”

“There’s what we call bonding teasing where a group of close friends give each other a hard time and the group says, ‘alright, it’s getting out of hand. Knock it off,’”

“Behavior, If it’s ongoing harassment, intimidation, relentless. That rises to the definition of what I would call bullying.”

Signs for bullying

“Any drastic behavior changes are a sign. Dabbling in substances. Starting to use substances to numb out their pain. Loss of appetite or somebody who didn’t really eat much starts overeating. Any time you see a kid start to isolate or the opposite of that and goes out more.”

Ways to overcome bullying

“We do this weird thing at home and school where we move the victim and protect them, but we don’t let the victim stand up for themselves and say, ‘this is what I think.’ So, when we give kids a voice in their own conflict, coping goes up. Maturity goes up.”

McPherson says role-playing – listening and understanding your child’s concerns can help them develop coping skills.

Is my kid the bully?

“The reality is humans have two choices with pain. Either transmit onto somebody else or we transform it.”

Parents should watch out for warning signs – like lashing out physically and verbally at home. They should also monitor their child’s devices.

“Everything you want to know about your kid is on a gaming platform, on text message, email or phones.”

McPherson also suggests teaching kids how to stop bullying online by blocking people and simply disconnecting.

She also says kids watch how their parents interact online in this politically charged pandemic.

Education in Arizona

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