Topeka organization provides insights on bullying, how parents can help

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – From elementary school to high school, bullying is a problem that never seems to go away.

Its something that can impact students’ grades, mental health, and overall well-being, but a local expert said there are things parents can do to help.

Jennie Watson is a social worker at Topeka’s Family Service and Guidance Center who deals with cases of bullying first-hand.

Watson said kids may not always feel comfortable talking about being bullied.

“Reaching out for help makes a person vulnerable, and if they become vulnerable to someone else and that person doesn’t respond or react in the way that person thought they would, then they have a second let down,” Watson said.

She said there are signs a parent can be on the lookout for, like noticing if your child doesn’t want to go to school or has stopped hanging out with their friends.

“We see a lot of this come out in physical complaints, headaches, tummy aches, or just I don’t feel and there is nothing wrong with them, there are no ailments, but it’s inside,” she said.

Watson noted that bullying typically starts in elementary school, peaks in middle school, and continues through high school, and is an issue that’s not always black and white.

“A person could engage in bullying behavior on a Tuesday and then get picked on or mistreated on a Wednesday and it’s really about teaching them what to do instead,” she continued.

As far as what parents can do to help, Watson said being a good role model and talking to your child can make a big difference.

“You know sometimes if we can shut the radio off and take away the devices have a five-minute conversation about how was your day, then that’s when they can open up and talk a lot more than in a situation where they’re sitting across from a parent and feeling questioned.”

While parents may never be able to stop bullying, she said their help can go a long way in fighting off long-term effects.

“Another piece of advice is a little non-traditional,” she said. “When kids do come to us, don’t say you’ll be okay or ignore it.”

She said to recognize the feelings of the child. If you suspect bullying it may be helpful to contact the school or to get your student connected to some services.

Family Service and Guidance Center is hosting a workshop for parents about raising resilient kids on October 17. The workshop is free but parents do need to register.

To find more information on the workshop and to sign up, click here.

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