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What can you do if your child is being bullied?

Ask your child directly. Often children do not wish to tell their parents due to shame and embarrassment, or fear that the bullies will retaliate if they tell. Check out the signs and symptoms page in the bullying section for signs that your child is being bullied.

If you think the bullying is coming from sources at school, contact the school immediately to make sure your child is safe and that effective consequences are being applied towards the bully.

If your child is timid and lacks friends, try to arrange for your child to participate in positive social groups that meet his or her interests. Developing your child's skills can increase self-confidence and can be very helpful.

What can you do if your child is the bully?

First off, take the situation seriously. Children who bully others often get into trouble later in life and may even receive criminal convictions. Here are some things you can do to turn the situation around.

Talk to your child. Keep a calm, steady tone; getting angry may just upset your child and he or she may just carry on with the bullying. Keep in mind when you are talking that the bully will try to deny or minimize his or her wrong-doing

Make it clear that you will not tolerate this kind of behavior and discuss with your child the negative impact bullying has on the victims. There are plenty of web sites out there on the negative impacts of bullying, it might be enlightening to your child to show them some of these.

Increase your supervision of your child's activities and whereabouts and who your child is associating with. Spend some quality time with your child as they could just be looking for some attention.

Co-operate with the school in modifying your child's aggressive behavior. Frequent communication with teachers is important to find out how your child is doing in changing his or her behavior.

Make sure your child is not seeing violence between members of his or her family. Modeling of aggressive behavior at home can lead to violence against others at school.

You could seek help from a school psychologist, social worker, or children's mental health centre in the community if you would like support in working with your child.