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Steps families can take to help a child who is bullied

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, parents and family members can help prevent bullying and cyberbullying in a number of ways, mostly by being engaged, attentive and loving.

• The first step should always be to contact the teacher, principal or counselor at the school with your concerns. If the problem is not addressed, contact a district administrator, the superintendent or a school board member.

• Take your child to a pediatrician or family doctor, if the child

• reports injury.

• shows signs of not wanting to attend school, crying excessively, extreme drop in grades or has decided to not go to the bathroom during the school day

• has trouble sleeping, an extreme change in eating habits or stops socializing with friends and peers. A doctor may recommend mental health services, or may be able to recommend how to talk about the problem with people at the school.

• If your child is experiencing cyberbullying, take a screenshot of the harmful posts or interactions and consider taking down personal electronic media sites and have your child take a break from social applications for a few weeks. For more suggestions on how to respond to cyberbullying, go to Cyberbullying Research Center or StopBullying.gov.

• Recognize the warning signs that your child is involved in bullying. They could be the target of bullying, the one engaging in bullying behavior or witnessing bullying. Talk to your child if they display any sort of behavioral or emotional changes. Often, kids won't ask for help, so it is important to know what to look for. If your child is at immediate risk of harming himself or others, get help right away.

• Learn what bullying is and what it is not. Many behaviors that look like bullying may be just as serious, but may require different response strategies. Opening lines of communication before your child is involved in bullying will make it easier for them to tell you when something happens. It is also important to work with a school to help prevent bullying before it starts.

• Encourage your child to keep a diary about the highs and lows they experience each day. This can help keep track of what is going well and what is not going well and may serve as a measure of frequency or infrequency of harm.

• Repeat family expectations for honesty, empathy, responsibility and kindness.

If you have worked with your child and your school and need additional help, contact the School Safety Technical Assistance Center at 651-582-8364.

When a child as maltreated by a school employee

If you are concerned that a school staff person's behavior or negligence is endangering a child, call the Student Maltreatment Program, Division of Compliance and Assistance at 651-582-8546. This division oversees implementation of the Maltreatment of Minor's Act.

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