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Confronting Bullying As A Parent

More than 5.7 million young people are involved in bullying, either by being bullied or acting as the bully themselves, according to The National Youth Violence Prevention Network. Parents can help their children and teenagers by knowing the warning signs that their child is being bullied or bullying others, how to talk about this issue and how much influence parents have.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and Magellan Health Services is calling attention to mental health and bullying for its second annual Take Mental Health To Heart campaign. Magellan has partnered with The Jed Foundation, the nation’s leading organization working to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among college students and young adults, to raise awareness about the mental health effects of bullying and encourage people to take responsibility for building a bully-free community. Throughout the month, Magellan and The Jed Foundation will share information about bullying from the perspective of the victim, the bully, parents and bystanders.

Talking About Bullying

Children learn early—from television, books and magazines, music, the Internet and interactions with their peers and family—how to treat and respect other people. Parents are the most powerful role models, and their actions mold a child’s attitudes about many things, including acceptable social behavior. When talking to children about bullying, parents must be as open and honest as possible, carefully listening to them and acknowledging that they understand the youth’s feelings. Parents should also watch for signs that a child may be the victim of bullying, may be bullying others, or may be disturbed by having witnessed a bullying incident.

“Whether a child is being bullied or is bullying others, either is a clear sign that something is wrong,” says Gary Henschen, M.D., chief medical officer for behavioral health at Magellan. “Children and young adults respond to bullying differently, so any significant changes in behavior – from acting out and being disruptive, to becoming more reserved or isolated – may be a sign that bullying is at work.”

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