For many generations, people have thought of school bullying as an inevitable rite of passage and that it helped us all learn how to "stand up for ourselves" and deal with the "real world." This is no longer the case. The law is very clear that school districts must prevent harassment of students and take action when it occurs.
We now know that youth who are bullied do less well in school and experience more stress than peers who are not bullied. With responses from nearly 32,000 high school students in 15 urban school districts, the National School Boards Association found that 50% of students report seeing other students being bullied at least once a month. Talk to your kids about bullying at school and ask what they experience or see. Find out what your district policy is and encourage your child to report any bullying.
Schools are now responsible for educating youth that physical, emotional, and cyber-bullying will not be tolerated. There are many resources available to teachers, schools, and parents to help kids recognize and stop bullying. My favorites include the Bully Book for young kids, the Bullying Module for 4th and 5th grade classrooms, and the Bullying Fact Sheet for Teens.
Along with knowing what bullying is happening, you can also talk to your child about why bullying is never OK and the kinds of values you expect your child to share about respect. Character education is a big part of bullying prevention, and there are many preteens who truly do not understand that exclusion and ignoring certain kids are forms of bullying.