Parents Learn How to Teach Kids to Handle Bullying; the Internet and Cell Phones Are Making an Age-Old Problem More Complicated

Article excerpt

Byline: MAGGIE FITZROY

Bullying is a behavior that ridicules, humiliates or harms another person.

There are physical bullies, verbal bullies, relational bullies and cyberbullies who use modern technology to inflict hurt.

Some aspects of bullying are changing because the Internet and cell phones make it easier for cyberbullies to spread messages using text messaging and Facebook.

And more and more kids are bringing cell phones to school with Internet access.

Parents who attended a bullying workshop Thursday evening at Landrum Middle School learned those facts about bullying and more, including how to help their children confront and stop it, whether the taunts are directed at themselves or others.

The hour-long event, presented by national bullying expert Mike Dreiblatt, was sponsored by the Ponte Vedra Public Education Foundation.

Principal Wayne King said the program, which was also presented to students and staff that day, was held "to create awareness" of a problem that is not new, but that is becoming more complex.

At Landrum, "we don't have massive issues with bullying," he said. "But it's deeper than face-to-face anymore."

Dreiblatt, whose company Balance Education Services is based in Vermont, held a total of five workshops that day. He gave hour-long presentations to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders and an after-school workshop to faculty, during which he focused on helping participants identify, stop and prevent bullying.

At the parent workshop, he presented "bully-proofing plan of action" techniques that parents can teach their children. If bullied in person, it's important for the child to stay calm, tell the bully to stop, and after making quick eye contact, walk away, he said.

He also advised parents how to work with the school if their child is being bullied, including how to set up a safety plan.

Forty-three states have bully prevention laws and Florida is one of them, Dreiblatt said.

If a bullying incident starts on campus, a school is responsible for taking action by coming up with a plan to stop it.

But with the Internet and cell phones, sometimes cyberbullying starts during off-school hours and continues to cause problems during school, Dreiblatt said. …