Avoid summer bullying

The final bell of the school year might seem to signal a reprieve
from schoolyard bullying. But harassing behavior doesn’t keep a
calendar and, sadly, it doesn’t stop where campus borders end.

It seeps into summer. Into parks, malls, community pools, camps
and, of course, online — into social networks and e-mail.

How pervasive is summertime bullying? Consider that the American
Camp Association devotes an entire section of its website to bullying prevention.

“Children at camp can be at-risk for suffering from the
devastating effects of bullying,” Kim Storey, author of “Eyes on
Bullying,” writes on the ACA site. “Some children may leave camp
midway, while others may not return the following season because
of their experiences with bullying.”

In a 2011 survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
found 20 percent of high school students had experienced bullying
in the past year. A 2008-09 study by the National Center for
Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics,
meanwhile, found 28 percent of students in grades six through 12
had experienced bullying.

That’s why parents need to keep a watchful eye — even in these
so-called carefree days of summer — for the tell-tale signs of
bullying (unexplained injuries, lost or destroyed possessions,
headaches, appetite loss or binge-eating, etc.)

Here are some steps parents can take to ensure their kids enjoy a
bully-free break:

– Keep talking. Check in with your children daily about how their
day went and who their friends are (including online friends).
Make sure they know they can come to you if they experience a
problem.

– Make good choices. Choose summertime activities where your
children will be supervised by responsible, trained adults. Also,
try to pair your children with activities they enjoy and are good
at, to help bolster their self-esteem.

– Monitor a child’s time online. Make a point of knowing what
websites your children visit and why. Set ground rules. For
example, let them know you might review their online
communications and activities. Also, consider limiting their
amount of screen time, i.e. on cell phones, computer, etc.

– Talk to your kids about bullying. Explain what it is. Encourage
them to speak to an adult they trust if they are bullied or
witness someone else being bullied.

To read more on this topic, check out: StopBullying.gov, a
website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Copyright ©2013 by Parent Today and Capital Region BOCES; Used
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