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Using Summertime to "Bully-Proof" Your Children

June 25, 2012

CHICAGO - The story of Karen Klein, the bullied bus monitor, has garnered international attention and is raising the issue of bullying around the country, and parents in Illinois are being urged to use the summertime to "bully-proof" their children.

Kris Nielsen, supervisor of the School-Based Services program at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, who counsels children during the school year, says you can do a lot of good by helping your kids understand that you enjoy spending time with them.

"Have some fun over the summer. Don't focus so much on what happened during the school year, or get so stressed out about that. But cook with your kids, garden, throw the ball around, go swimming."

Nielsen says focus on keeping them connected to you, their siblings and friends with similar interests. She also suggests spending a little time each day talking about the good things that happened to them, and what they are good at.

Nielsen also suggests that parents remind children to talk to them if they witness bullying and to report it to teachers when it happens in school.

She says sometimes parents get busy and forget to tell their children how much they enjoy them, just as they are.

"Tell them they have a lot of neat things and characteristics about themselves, and not to compare themselves in any way to even the siblings in the family, or what their friends can do, and what not. It's all about celebrating their good."

And because bullying doesn't take the summer off, especially cyber-bullying, Nielsen says parents should keep track of what's happening online, even with older children.

"Kids will say and do things on the computer that they might not otherwise if they were face to face. So, I think it starts with monitoring the computer."

Nielsen works with school programs that help students develop empathy and problem-solving abilities to prevent bullying and other behavioral issues.

You can Google the words Second Step to find resources for families and teachers.

More information is at tinyurl.com/7qpkc22 and at tinyurl.com/7ue6hpr.



Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL