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Prevent Bullying in NH – Trust is Key

April 19, 2012

CONCORD, N.H. - The recent national release of the documentary film "Bully" has shone a spotlight on what many are calling a serious epidemic with children and youths - and groups in New Hampshire are working to raise awareness.

bullying can lead to isolation and a drop in school grades and self-esteem, says Carol Croteau, director of Bully Free New Hampshire. In some cases, she adds, it can be a risk factor for suicide.

Bullying can be prevented, however. Croteau tells parents it's important to stay engaged with their children and be aware of the warning signs.

"Perhaps a child is withdrawn; that's generally a big sign. Things like coming home with clothes in disarray; perhaps their lunch money has been stolen - even a child coming home and relaying information to parents."

It's important to keep lines of communication open with children and ask questions, Croteau says, adding that they need an adult they can trust if there is a problem in or out of school. She says many youngsters do not come forward for fear of retaliation, so it's also important to stay in contact with teachers and school administrators.

When trying to prevent bullying in schools, says Molly Goseline of School Climate Consulting Services, it's not always easy to identify which children are being harassed, so creating an environment of trust for students is an important way to encourage them to report it.

"For teachers and administrators and janitors and the lunch ladies and the bus drivers - everyone who's involved in the school community - to make sure that there aren't any kids who go through an entire day without someone saying 'hi, it's good to see you, how's your day going?' "

Goseline organizes an annual conference for New Hampshire education professionals. This year's focus is on techniques designed to prevent bullying in schools. The conference will be held in June.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH