Protect your child from bullying, prevent destructive behavior - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Protect your child from bullying, prevent destructive behavior

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

With school back in session, there's one lesson everyone should brush up on: How to spot and prevent bullying. FOX 32 News takes an in-depth look at what children, parents and teachers need to know.

If your child is being bullied, they are not alone. Approximately 160,000 children miss school every day due to bullying. What happens in the classroom can affect a child's schoolwork and social life. The school with the best anti bullying program in the city has kids teaching valuable lessons to each other.

At Jane Addams Elementary School on the Southeast Side, 30 kids joined the Bully Police Patrol. They meet after school and when there's trouble, they address it in the classroom.

When the bully patrol finds out there's a problem, they do an intervention. It can be very emotional. The bully often comes forward, sometimes rejects the confrontation, but many times feels remorse.

A few kids on the bully patrol say they were bullies, until they understood the harm they did to other children. Some honest testimony comes out.

Karen Wojcikowski is the founder of the Bully Police Patrol. She told FOX 32 News that the program creates a warm environment where kids can do better on their schoolwork.

"Bullied: What Every Parents, Teacher and Kid Needs to Know about Ending the Cycle of Fear" author Carrie Goldman joined Good Day to answer viewers' Facebook questions about bullying.

FOX medical contributor Dr. Mona Khanna joined Good Day Chicago to explain the tell-tale signs your child is being bullied, and what you can do to help them help themselves out of the situation.

Make sure you communicate with your children in a comfortable space, so that you can be aware of what's going on in their lives and so they will be open to taking advice from you, should they get into a situation they cannot find their way out of.

Discourage sibling rivalry and teasing, because those relationships influence their relationships with their contemporaries outside your home. Make sure your children are not afraid or averse to going to authority figures for help or to report behavior that is hurting another student.

Bullying not only takes an emotional toll on a child, but a very real physical toll as well. A study looked at young people who were bullied at the age of 14 and followed them until they were 21. The results showed that they were more likely to have a higher Body Mass Index, or grow up to be heavier. In turn, those who are overweight are common target of bullying.

Some schools are also measuring students' BMI and sending the results home, in an effort to raise health awareness and help schools fashion programs according to students' needs. For example, longer recess periods might be called for or nutritionists might need to be called in for counsel.

As with any individualized information, kids' curiosity can sometimes get the better of them. They'll want to share their reports, or find out the results of another student, who might not want to share. Some parties are concerned that measuring and releasing this information to students to bring home can lead to further bullying.

Physical signs and symptoms of being bullied are:

  • Anxiety
  • Backaches
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Injuries that require medical care
  • Irritability
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Stomachaches
  • Suicidal attempts
  • In the worst cases, suicide

Former teacher and Dreams for Kids director Robyn Shulman joined Good Day to discuss how a parent should approach their child's teacher if they are concerned that their child is being bullied.

Shulman said the first step is to talk to your child, and make sure your child is in fact being bullied. Don't go on the attack once you're sure – send the teacher an email with a positive approach, so that you have a documented conversation of how you would work together to make the bullying stop.

Shulman also shared tips for teachers to handle situations where bullying takes place in their classrooms. But the bottom line it, work as a team to stop and prevent the behavior.

HELPFUL LINKS:

Cook County Sheriff Youth Services Department offers a variety of prevention programs, especially related to violence and bullying, for students in grades 1-8 in all schools throughout Cook County. Call 773-674-4711 for more information.

Cook County Sheriff's Office: www.cookcountysheriff.org

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is highly researched and effective in reducing the incidence of bullying and improving school climate. For more information go to www.olweus.org or call Joanne Bieschke at 773-674-3859.

Cook County Sheriff's Police Child Exploitation Unit: 708-865-4700

Bullying Information: www.stopbullying.gov

Thanks to Cook County Sheriff's Youth Services Dept. director Joanne Bieschke for these additional resources.

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