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Bullying Being the bully

Fortunately, the school counselor took immediate action after Courtney's mother told the counselor about Daniel's bullying behavior.

Daniel's parents also responded correctly. Often, parents resist hearing that their child is engaging in bullying behavior. They tell themselves he or she is just teasing or that bullying is part of growing up.

Yvette and Stan punished Daniel and talked with him about the consequences of his behavior. By sharing her own experience with bullying, Yvette helped Daniel see that he was really hurting Courtney.

"By hearing what his mother went through, Daniel could no longer tell himself that he was just joking with Courtney," says Dr. Gene Beresin, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. "This set the stage for Daniel to be able to identify with the character Cole, when he was reading Touching Spirit Bear.

Forty-five states have passed anti-bullying laws. Still, many schools ignore complaints of bullying. Doing so enables bullying behavior and puts young people at risk.

"Authority figures who ignore bullying are as guilty as the bullies," says Dr. Beresin. "When schools have clear rules and policies against bullying, and enforce them, two this happen: boys and girls who might bully are less likely to do so; and those who observe bullying or are targets feel much safer speaking up about it."

If you know a child is bullying others, take immediate action. Doing so may spare another child long-term harm.

The website www.stopbullyingnow.com suggests asking these questions of a young person who has engaged in bullying behavior.

• What did you do?
• Why was that a bad thing to do?
• Who did you hurt?
• What were you trying to accomplish?
• Next time you have that goal, how will you meet it without hurting anybody?

See Daniel's and Courtney's story in the DVD Bullying: True Stories.

Hear and read more stories about bullying in Boys on Bullying, The Power of Girls: Inside and Out and Words Can Work: When Talking About Bullying.

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Words Can Work: When Talking About Bullying - Booklet
Young people and parents tell how they handle and discuss bullying.
The Power of Girls: Inside and Out - DVD
Girls tell how friends, parents, or other caregivers helped them handle bullying, eating disorders, early sexual activity, and deep loss.
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