The first day of school is just around the corner. For some students, that means catching up with old friends, exchanging vacation stories, picking out new clothes and preparing for an exciting new year with new teachers and new classrooms.

For others it’s a time full of anxiety. They may be returning to a place of relentless teasing and ridicule. Not to say that bullying can’t happen outside the campus, but studies have shown that bullying occurs more frequently among middle-school-aged children.

As parents, guardians, peers or even faculty, there are ways to stop bullying in its tracks, but most of the time, the work begins at home. One of the most effective way to teach children that bullying is wrong is by simply teaching them to be kind—to everyone.

Bullying can come in all sorts of shapes or shades. What some might see as harmless teasing could actually become a long-standing threat or even escalate to something more violent if left unchecked. Bullies can use words or aggression on the playground, or they could be lurking online or among your child’s text messages or snapchats. Your child could be the victim, your child could be a bystander who participates or who refuses to stand up against an aggressor, or your child could even be the bully.

One key to stopping a bully in their tracks is to stand up to them. It’s important to always regard safety as the first priority, but warn an adult if you or another student is being pushed around physically or verbally at school. Remember there is power in numbers.

If you suspect your child is being bullied or taking part in bullying, talk to them. Encourage a safe space at home for talking and come up with a plan to address the matter for either situation. Teach your child to think carefully before they post anything online and to keep their passwords safe from their peers.

We hope the start of the school year is a thrilling experience for everyone as it is a time for new beginnings. Use this time to teach your child new habits of making friends wherever they go. Discourage teasing or taunting, especially if the behavior is directed at someone who is a little different. Set an example for your child by showing kindness in everything you do every single day.

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