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Expert Advises Parents on School Bullying

By Ray Hershel

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (abc40) – There is growing concern over the issue of school bullying following the suicide of South Hadley High School student Phoebe Prince.

Bullying is a problem for younger students as well.

Dr. Jack Fanton is a child psychiatrist at Baystate Medical Center. He says if your child is being bullied, talk about it, “One of the first things we recommend parents to do is validate and support their child’s effort in coming forward and talking about it.”

Dr. Fanton says parents should remind children of their positive qualities in building up their self esteem. Dr. Fanton says children should be assertive but not vindictive. And they shouldn’t start a fight with a bully, “We counsel families and children about taking matters into their own hands verbally speaking up for themselves but  we strongly recommend against any physical confrontation.”

Dr. Fanton says some bullies might retaliate with weapons instead of settling their disagreements the old fashioned way with a school yard fist fight.

He also says parents should not feel like they have to fight the bully battle all by themselves, “Parents should not feel like they’re alone in trying to adjust to this, there’s a lot of media resources, there’s a lot of people at school who have expertise on this. “

Meanwhile the American Academy of Pediatrics also says a child should not give in to a bully’s demands. The academy also encourages your child to form strong friendships. If they have loyal friends they are less likely to be singled out by a bully.