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Empowering Parents and Children to Confront Bullying

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October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. In the recent years, bullying has especially

become an area of great concern for parents, children, educators, and mental health professionals.

And with all the technological advances, cyberbullying has added another dimension to this issue.

Many children and adolescents who are bullied suffer in silence and develop symptoms of anxiety and

depression, while their academic performance declines. And in some more severe cases, some have

become suicidal. Fortunately, there is much information and support available to target and lessen this

issue.

In order to help, it is first important to recognize that helping someone who is being bullied is a

collective effort that entails communication and collaboration amongst the child, school professionals,

parents and mental health professionals. It is also important to educate oneself on what constitutes

bullying behaviors and the warning signs indicative that a child is being bullied. Bullying can be defined

as the deliberate, often repeated attempt to intimidate, embarrass, or harm another person. It can take

on the form of physical, social or relational bullying, verbal, and cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is bullying

that takes place over the Internet, texting, and social media websites.

Some common signs children and adolescents may display if being bullied include school avoidance,

inability to concentrate, stomachaches, headaches, low self-esteem, increased anxiety, self-isolation,

and decreased grades. Other physical evidence may include unexplained marks or bruises. You may also

find that they report that some of their possessions are missing or damaged.

So what can one do? REPORT, REPORT, REPORT! Students are encouraged to report bullying to a school

counselor, teacher and administrator. That way immediate investigation and action can be taken to

remedy the situation. Additionally, many schools have bullying policies in place that offer a systematic

response to the issue. If the bullying target needs additional support through the process, referrals

can be made to a mental health professional, who can assist with healing, building self-esteem, and

developing the skills needed for the child to assert themselves.

Bullying is a learned behavior. Youth who engage in this behavior also need assistance and it should be

provided to them as well. The child who utilizes this behavior may also be struggling with an internal

issue and can be assisted with learning more appropriate, healthy ways to manage feelings.

Do not suffer alone! Get involved! For more information on bullying you can visit www.stopbullying.gov

or www.pacer.org/bullying. If you or someone you know is being bullied. We can help. Please contact

The Counseling Group at 305-857-0050.

Jennifer Juncosa is a licensed psychotherapist at The Counseling Group and a Middle School Counselor

for Miami-Dade County Public schools.

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