Published: | By: Committee for Children Work Together to Prevent Bullying March 22, 2010 SEATTLE—Bullying isn’t just harmless playground behavior. It’s something many children witness each and every day, and it can have long-lasting, serious consequences. An astounding eight out of ten boys and girls in middle and high schools across the United States report being bullied, points out Committee for Children, a King County-based nonprofit organization that provides learning materials to children around the world to help keep them safe from violence. In King County, four out of ten eighth-graders say they’ve been recently bullied at school, one-third say they’ve been in a fight on campus, and a startling ten percent say they’ve carried weapons to school to protect themselves. “Many adults dismiss bullying as ‘just a phase,’ but research shows bullying behavior often predicts more serious problems,” explains Joan Duffell, executive director of Committee for Children. “For example, kids who bully are far more likely than other kids to drop out of school, abuse drugs, and be convicted of crimes as adults.” Bullying also affects academic achievement. “You can’t be ready to learn if you’re worried about being physically harmed outside of class,” Duffell notes. Targets of bullying are more likely to skip school, experience emotional difficulties, and—in extreme cases—commit suicide, Duffell says. Witnesses to bullying suffer, too, as they experience feelings of helplessness, distress, and anxiety. In observance of National Youth Violence Prevention Week, March 22–26, Committee for Children offers these tips for parents to help prevent bullying and violence among our youth. Encourage your child to talk with you about bullying. When your child reports bullying to you, get the details: who was involved, when and where it happened, and what, if anything, was done about it. Don’t advise your child to retaliate, physically or otherwise. Don’t confront the child who bullies or his or her family. Next, treat your child’s school as your ally: Discuss your child’s concerns with school staff. Work with school staff to protect your child from possible retaliation. Establish a plan for dealing with future bullying incidents. Encourage your child to report bullying incidents to an adult he or she feels safe with at school.