Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bullying: How to talk to your children and your legal options

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Bullying is something every child will likely face at some point in his or her life.
So as a parent, how do you teach your child to handle these situations? We took that question to Dr. Karla Repper a clinical psychologist.
For young children she suggests role-playing.

"A parent can pretend to be the bully and poke them or bother them and the child can practice saying stop and trying to get away and going and telling someone," says Dr. Repper.

But for middle and high school students it isn't always that easy. Bullying often becomes more violent as the children get older and migrates to social media.

Dr. Repper says parents need to make sure their children are talking about the bullying and telling school administrators.

Also, parents need to monitor their children's activity online and look for cruel messages or posts. Keep a watchful eye if you start to see personality changes in your child.

"Wanting to be alone, spending a lot more time in their room, certainly crying a lot more are signs that they may need more attention, possibly professional attention," tells Dr. Repper

Don't be afraid to step in and take your child to a counselor if you are afraid they may hurt themselves.

Oustide of counseling, bullying is taking a new place in the legal realm. It is no longer just something that is punished at schools. More and more bullies are now being taken to court.

The shocking thing is they are getting much younger, we are talking 13-years-old is not unusal. I've seen some that are 11-years-old," tells attorney Richard Kurtiz.

If a bully creates a well-founded fear in your child, in some cases that can rise to the level of assault charges. Attorney Richard Kurtiz suggests keeping a log of all bullying incidents your child experiences.

"So if you do go to the school or law enforcement, you have a clear history that you could show to them so they will take your seriously and react," tells Kurtiz.

Print out online messages or postings, also keep every email you send to your child's teacher or school. You may need it down the road if you feel the school system is not doing enough to protect your child and decide to go to court.

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