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""In 2013, 16.6 percent of high school students in Massachusetts experienced bullying on school property, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Bullying can happen at school, on the bus, in your neighborhood, or online. It can lead to depression, reduced academic performance, and trauma in children and young adults. Learn how you can be proactive in combating bullying and its effects.

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) provide a guide for parents on bullying to help you determine how to help a child who is being bullied. These are some of the ways you can respond to bullying as an adult:

  • Talk About It — Whether you are a parent or family member, talking to kids about bullying is an important step in prevention, according to Talking to your child for just 15 minutes each day about their life and feelings may reassure them that they can talk to you if they are dealing with a problem like bullying.
  • Identify Bullying — Pushing, teasing, spreading embarrassing information online, and leaving someone out on purpose are all forms of bullying. Explain what bullying is to your kids and consider whether or not you have seen it yourself.
  • Monitor Signs of Cyberbullying — As more kids engage in online communication and social media, cyberbullying has become almost as common as bullying that occurs on school grounds. In the 2013 YRBSS, 13.8 percent of Massachusetts high school students reported being electronically bullied that year alone. Follow tips on how to deal with cyberbullying and learn how to prevent and report it.
  • Intervene — One of the common myths about bullying is that it is a natural part of growing up and that kids can figure it out without adult help. Research shows that by responding to bullying behavior quickly and consistently, adults can help stop it over time. There are ways to stop bullying on the spot without putting your child at risk of more bullying, such as not questioning the children involved in front of other kids, not forcing kids to apologize to each other on the spot, discussing the issue with the school or activities in which your child is registered, and following the 10 steps to safely respond to bullying.
  • Offer Support — The effects of bullying can be tremendous on everyone involved. Kids who are bullied can develop depression or anxiety, or do poorly in their studies. Kids who bully others are more prone to physical violence both as children and adults. Bystanders who witness bullying are more likely to miss or skip school and use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. Listening to your kids is an integral part of supporting them. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a list of conversation starters and tips on how to be an effective listener when it comes to conversations on bullying.

Download the SAMHSA KnowBullying app on your smartphone for guidance on dealing with bullying, including tips on how to prevent bullying, successful social media monitoring strategies, and ideas for conversation starters with your children.

How are you helping to prevent bullying? Comment below or tweet us at @MassGov.

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