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What children get bullied? Three factors seem to be involved: gender, size, and vulnerability. Victims are nearly always males. Victims are almost always smaller than the bullies are.

Victims project an air of vulnerability.Bullies are very good at sensing which child will show weakness.

What can parents do if their child is being victimized by a bully?

o Always listen sympathetically to your children if they complain about a bigger kid who’s harassing them. And pay attention to body language. If a boy seems subdued or worried or down, ask him if someone at school or in the neighborhood is bothering him.

o Teach your child that it is his right–and his responsibility–to go to the authorities. Any time he is terrorized by one or more bullies at school he should tell the teacher at once–and also tell his parents. If it happens away from school he should tell his parents.

o There is nothing wrong with telling someone in authority about bullying. “Tattling” is not a sin. In a democracy everyone should not only have an equal opportunity but also an equal right to be free from inflicted terror. Telling the authorities helps protect other weak or small citizens of the schoolyard. Telling is BRAVE because it helps make the school and streets safe for everyone.

o Tell your child that if he is picked on he should not feel he is doing anything wrong or that he deserves this fate. THE BULLY IS THE WRONG-DOER! The child who is bullied should be helped to stand up for his rights. Sometimes the simple act of saying, “Stop bothering me!” takes the bully by surprise and he lets up.

o Help your child avoid looking or acting vulnerable. Teach the child how to look people in the eye, how to smile with friendliness and assurance, and how to walk as though he has a right to be on that sidewalk–which, of course, he has.

o Help your child develop a sense of PERSONAL COURAGE. Self-defense lessons may be in order but your child should know he is taking these lessons to learn to defend himself, not to learn how to karate chop somebody. Although I don’t believe in solving problems by physical means, sometimes it IS appropriate for a boy to fight back. That usually takes the wind out of the bully’s sails because he only wants to pick on vulnerable kids.

o Be sure your child understands the dangers of the contemporary streets. Some kids may have guns or knives and the only appropriate response is to run away fast and tell someone in authority.

o If as a parent you see or hear about bullying in your neighborhood, whether or not your child is being bullied, TAKE ACTION! You should tell the bully to stop and tell his parents that their child’s behavior is unacceptable.