Massachusetts takes action on school bullying

stockphotopro_14092QRK_two_young_girls_bKids who have fell victim to taunts and ridicule in school may finally be awarded a victory this week as Massachusetts lawmakers hold hearings on nearly a dozen bills that aim to crack down on school bullying.

Bullying, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is an aggressive behavior that’s intended to cause distress or harm, and involves an imbalance of power or strength between the aggressor and the victim.For every child who is or has been bullied, it’s stressful and distracting at best, and frightening, damaging to self-esteem and  physically dangerous at worst.

If you know a child that is being bullied, offer them these tips:

  1. Act brave. Hold your head up and walk by as if you are not afraid of the bully. Bullies often pick on kids they think are weak because they seem like easier targets.
  2. Ignore the bully. Bullies are often looking for a reaction so they will get more attention from their peers. Don’t give them any.
  3. Stick up for other kids. If a bully does not get approval from his or her peers, he or she may stop the behavior.
  4. Tell an adult. It’s important that kids are protected by adults who can set clear expectations of appropriate behavior.
  5. Be a friend. Plan to be with a friend whenever you are worried about a bully. Develop new friends by getting involved in hobbies, clubs, sports or other organizations.

Not all bullying takes place face-to-face. Almost everyone has access to a cell phone or an Internet connection, and cyberbullying is a fast, easy and sometimes  anonymous way to harrass someone else. Many children report being threatened electronically, through email, instant messenges, blogging, text messages and Web sites dedicated to humiliating another child. For more information on cyberbullying, read this article.