Monday, January 17, 2011

Bullying: What should the parents do?

If you’ve ever suspected that your child has been bullied – or has bullied another child – you’ll want to read the Indiana Partnerships Center’s January newsletter.

Read the January Newsletter
We were struck by the onslaught of news stories about bullying, including the horrible news last fall that two boys in Central Indiana – one 14, the other 15 – hanged themselves after having been harassed at their schools.

So we decided to offer parents some insight into the issue of bullying, including the perspectives of two students who have been bullied; a mother whose child was bullied; a therapist who works with victims and their families; and a school official.

It’s hard to say if bullying is more common today than when we parents were in school. Most of us remember when the “cool kids” picked on the “nerds,” when some athletes had to endure a rite of passage to be accepted by their teams. But there is a new twist – cyber bullying, which means bullying via the Internet or cell phones – that subjects victims to relentless, 24/7, widespread and anonymous bullying. For some, such as the two Central Indiana boys, bullying becomes too much to bear. They take the ultimate way out, and create the ultimate tragedy for their loved ones.

One of the simplest yet most profound messages conveyed through the interviews conducted for our newsletter is that we can reduce, even eliminate, bullying if we teach our children to be kind. If a mother witnesses her young son being cruel to a playmate, she should ask him how he would feel if the roles were reversed. A child who learns empathy at an early age is less likely to bully in middle school and beyond.

In addition to the stories, our newsletter also offers links to online resources that go into greater depth about the issue. A particularly valuable one is the opportunity to take a bullying quiz created by the Josephson Institute on Ethics that will help you determine if you are doing all you can to prevent your child from being a victim or being a bully.

The Josephson Institute gave us permission to use its quiz for our members. If you’d like to take it, go to or, for a Spanish version, to

You may score your own results to see if you’re promoting healthy social relationships for your child. We hope to get sufficient results to share them with the Josephson Institute for its continued research on bullying.

What has your child’s experience been with bullying? Has your child’s school responded appropriately? Weigh in on the issue here.

The Indiana Partnerships Center encourages and enables parents to engage with their child’s school, to the mutual benefit of the child and the school.  The center, which serves all of Indiana, is one of 62 Parental Information Resource Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement.

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