Bully-Proofing Your Children

Do you remember the video of the father who stormed onto his daughter's school bus to confront the kids who were bullying her? Well, a lot of parents can identify with that dad because they also feel helpless to stop bullies from picking on their kids. But now, parents can get help from anti-bullying services.

School should be a place where children go to learn and make new friends but for this mom, it's a place where her son gets teased and bullied.

"They marked him from the beginning on the first day of kindergarten" said the mother.

The bullying is so bad, she's decided not to show their faces, fearful it'll just make things worse.

"I spoke with the bus driver. I've spoken with each teacher that he's had" said the mother of the bullied child.

Nothing worked, so now she's turning to Dr. Joel Haber, a psychologist who says parents can help their children become "bully proof".

"A parent calls me in desperation because their kid has been bullied. They don't know what to do and their kid doesn't want to go back to school" said Dr. Joel Haber, and "Anti-bully" coach.

Dr. Haber says how a parent reacts can mean the difference between helping and making things worse.

"Most parents feel that rush of adrenaline, that emotion and they want to take control of it themselves" said Dr. Haber.

Dr. Haber says that is a big mistake.

"They cut off their kid from talking to them" said Dr. Haber.

He shows this mom how to talk to her son about the bullying and then role play ways to diffuse it.

"...show me how you get picked on. And I'll try to show you a way that won't work and then I'll show you a way that'll work" said Dr. Haber.

But role playing doesn't work with older children because most of their bullying happens online.

"Kids are way ahead of parents on technology, and parents need the skills to deal with that so they can feel safe when their kids are using technology". said Dr. Haber.

So he has different advice for parents dealing with cell phones, facebook and Myspace - the tools the older kids use to bully.

"My goal always is when parents bring technology into a home is have them just set up parameters and rules" said Dr. Haber.

Dr. Haber's number one rule? Tell your children "cell phones and computers are a privilege and will be taken away if they are used for hurtful behavior". He also advises parents to "google" their children periodically and "friend" them on facebook to keep tabs on their online communication.

Save and print all evidence of cyberbullying and monitor your kids texts.

Michelle Boykins from the National Crime Prevention Council also has tips to prevent cyberbulllying.

"We recommend that you keep your computer or the laptop in a central location that allows you to see what's going on" she said.

Boykins points to research which shows bullying of any kind can have long lasting effects on kids.

"This is so devastating to our young people. They experience a drop in grades, isolation, they have mood swings and depression" said Boykins.

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