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Grandparents: 5 Ways to Deal With a Bully (or Bullied) Grandchild

Bullying has been in the news far too much lately. It’s heartbreaking, life-changing and all too often life-ending.

What constitutes bullying and how prevalent is it? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2009 that 20 percent of high school students nationwide experienced bullying. The National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics reports 28 percent of students in grades 6-12 experienced bullying in 2008-09.  The federal government-run website, www.stopbullying.gov, defines bullying as:

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.”

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.”

How can family members help kids who are bullied? And just as importantly, how can we prevent kids in our family from doing the bullying? It’s an issue that families are increasingly concerned about and they are getting involved. A recent AARP Grandparent Study found that 53 percent of grandparents surveyed have talked with their grandchildren about peer pressure and bullying. Interviews with grandparents also tell us that they worry about the health and safety of their grandkids. As family members, we want to help but often feel powerless.

Here are 5 ways to start:

Bullies may have more aggressive tendencies and may have been bullied or abused themselves by family members or friends. They may have friends who are bullies. They may have a marked lack of empathy and inability to put themselves in the position of others. Their strength may be physical but not necessarily – they try to be in a position of power in other ways as well.

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