Parental Involvement Can Help Control School Bullying
With the first day of school less than a month a way, it's a great time for child and parents to think of more than school supplies and take a refresher on bullying prevention. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
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Twelve-year-old Sal Sportiello says he's never been bullied himself, but he has seen it happen often at his school in South Beach, Staten Island.
"There was a bully bullying a kid and I was passing by and I overheard, so I jumped in and I said to the bully, 'Does this make you feel good about yourself?' He didn't answer me and he backed off," says Sal.
This eighth grader's story is all too common in schools across the country. And while the victim Sal helped eventually became his best friend and stopped being targeted by bullies, the stories don't always have happy endings.
According to Family First Aid, a not-for-profit aimed at helping troubled teens, roughly 30 percent of teens — more than 5.5 million across the country — are estimated to be involved in school bullying, as either a bully or a target.
"Consequences of bullying can be very detrimental in various ways, from low self-esteem to lack of interest in continuing regular activities, lack of interest in school, frank school phobia, depression, suicide," says Dr. Saidi Clemente, a developmental behavior pediatrician.
The doctor urges parents to look for some tell-tale signs of bullying — bruises, changes to the child's appearance or trouble sleeping.
A child with extreme aggression may be a bully, and parents should see how that child handles his or her emotions.
Advocates say the easiest and most important thing parents can do to help prevent bullying is simply talk to their child.
Belinda Mendez-Azzollini began the not-for-profit Just Be Me! two years ago to help parents and kids with those conversations.
"Life isn't perfect, we know that. We know there's always going to be a problem. But we're trying to teach and enforce in our young people to come up with solutions to be proactive and empower them," says Mendez-Azzollini.
Other keys to prevention for parents include getting involved with their children, monitoring online activities and cellphone use, meeting their children's friends and teaching their children how to handle their emotions.