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Physical Bullying Your 9 year-old son, who is small for his age, has been arriving home with bruises he doesn’t want to discuss. When pressed, he admits a few of the larger kids in his class have been trying to physically intimidate him. They push in front of him in the lunch line and take “cheap shots” at him during games in recess and gym class. It’s time to step in. Detrick says, “If [a] child has unexplained bruises, a parent should go straight to the administrator in charge of discipline. This is clearly physical aggression and is never acceptable.”

Cyberbullying You keep a close eye on your 13 year-old’s online activity by friending her on Facebook and regularly viewing her postings. After a misunderstanding at school involving a boy, a one-time friend is now regularly making nasty posts about your daughter on her own page. Your daughter untags herself from each post that names her, but they remain on the other girl’s page for all to see. Since the incident occurred at school, “the parent should contact and meet with their child’s teacher, counselor or principal,” says Kent. “Typically, the school will take action to help stop the bullying.” In the rare situation where parents need to escalate their response, they can contact the district superintendent or even, as a last resort, the Indiana Department of Education.

Anti-bullying resources NetLiteracy provides PSAs, videos and online safety lesson plans that contain tips about bullying at www.netliteracy.org/safe-connects. In addition, Kent points parents to www.stopbullying.gov for additional resources, including warning signs that a child may be being bullied and a list of ways to get outside help. Detrick recommends parents seek professional help for their child if she exhibits “depression that's not going away or any evidence of self-harm.”

Net Literacy also offers student volunteers an opportunity to get directly involved with Internet safety. Mattea Johnson, a 12th grade student at Northwest Community High School, currently serves on the Net Literacy Board of Directors. During her time with the organization, she has acted as a youth spokesperson and been featured in a PSA. “I also give my friends that have questions about Internet safety issues support and guidance,” she says.

Bullies can have a far-reaching impact on their victims. Equipping a child to recognize and handle these situations, and getting involved as a parent to stop the abuse, takes the power out of a bully’s hands and creates a safer environment for all children.