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How parents can spot the signs of bullying

Cyberbullying is more prevalent than ever and here's how to know if it's happening to your child.

TAMPA, Fla. — Bullying is more prevalent than ever with this politically charged climate and in the middle of a pandemic that has isolated so many people. 

It's happening across the board to all ages, but especially kids and teens. 

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and it's important to highlight how this is happening and in particular the effect it's having on kids.  

First, let's pinpoint the definition. Bullying is not simply just a mean or offhanded comment. It is unwanted, aggressive behavior that is repeated to show power over someone.  

According to Stacy Spencer, a youth specialist with Teen Tyme Productions,  there are five types of bullying. 

"Verbal, physical, mental, emotional and the number one big daddy is cyberbullying," Spencer said.

She says kids are extremely vulnerable right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Even without hard data yet, experts say cyberbullying is likely worse than ever since our kids have been doing most of their learning and socializing online. 

Spencer says there are things to watch for.

"We talk about the three I's: intimidation, isolation and inferiority. They all run on the same plateau." 

In other words. kids who are feeling alone make a prime target for bullies. Over a period of time, they may start to second guess themselves and get depressed. 

"We are virtually, technologically savvy these days, our young people and our teens however they are not psychologically grounded to handle the peer pressure of the age."

So what can parents do? 

  • Keep the lines of communication open at all times. 
  • Be compassionate and make time to talk to your kids, so you know what's going on.

Also, bullying can lead to changes in your child's behavior.  If there are sudden changes in sleeping and eating habits, if they start avoiding friends and family or there's a sudden change in grades, it might be time to consider professional help. 

For more information on bullying, check out stopbullying.gov.

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