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How to help kids deal with bullying

December 10, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Unfortunately, most kids will tell you bullying is alive and well. In national surveys, kids reveal most bullying happens at school.So what can parents do to help kids cope with it and lessen its impact?

Getting to the root of bullying is a complex psychological issue, but experts say teaching children to recognize what bullying is and how to react to it can help stop it.

If it weren't for Kempo Karate, 12-year-old Blake Omartian thinks he'd be pretty lost at his school's social scene. Some kids can be pretty mean.

"Some people just kind of think that they are better than them and they think that they can just talk down to them if they're shorter or they think they're just cooler,"

Surveys reveal 20 to 30 percent of students say they've experienced some form of bullying or victimization at their schools.

"Some kids will reorganize bullying very early on and they'll stop the bully right away just understanding the entire situation. Other children withdraw," said Dr. Stephen De Vita, a family practice physician at Kaiser Permanente.

At the Z-Ultimate Self Defense Studios in La Canada, instructors offer specific solutions for students who feel they're being bullied.

Sensei Lucian Warren says being able to stand up for yourself is the only way to stop the cycle of bullying, but that doesn't mean fighting.

"Usually there has to be some sort of 'I'm standing up for myself and I'm making this stop,'" said Warren.

Nobody wants their kids to get into a fight. And even though these children are learning the fine art of self defense, what teachers are really trying to cultivate is self confidence.

"Every class you are learning, you're improving and you're going to build confidence regardless of what the people around you re doing," said Warren.

Dr. De Vita agrees building self esteem and self confidence can help a child put bullying in perspective.

"Generally those kids are going to feel comfortable, even if someone maybe just teases them, to either let that go or know when to just walk away," said Dr. De Vita.

Sports, special interest clubs and martial arts can help a child make friends and build self confidence, but ultimately, experts say, building self esteem starts with the parents.

"Make sure you talk to your children and keep the open lines of communication with your children. You need to check with them regularly," said Dr. De Vita.

"Make sure somebody knows about it. Make sure you tell your parents, make sure you tell a teacher, somebody you have trust in, somebody that can help you with that, because if you're on your own, you're in trouble usually," said Warren.

Psychologists say other forms of bullying include snubbing and mean texts. Again not all kids react the same way so checking in with your kids routinely can help them deal with different situations.

Here are a few resources for parents and kids to help cope with bullying:


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