Demi Lovato is a teen celebrity, but she hasn’t always had a charmed life. She admits she stopped going to middle school because of the bullying she endured. “It hurt so bad, I actually left school,” she says. And while she considers herself lucky, because her family was able to make sure she had home schooling, she acknowledges that not everyone has that choice.Â “No one should have to miss school or feel bad about themselves, because of bullying,” Lovato says. Which is why she has teamed up with the Pacer Center and joined other teens to help spread the message that “the end of bullying begins with you.”
Lovato is a role model for other teens and this week’s AmericanTowns Hero for standing up to help end a practice that affects children more deeply than most of us realize. She acknowledges that she used a number of tactics to help her cope, like her music and dance and feels that the experience may have made her stronger, but wants other kids to know they don’t have to suffer in silence or be afraid to go to school. She is urging teens as well as teachers and parents to band together to recognize the signs of bullying and take action.
Children who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, anxious, lonely, feel sick, skip school and in some cases, consider taking their own lives.Â Children won’t always tell their parents what is happening because they feel embarrassed or ashamed to “tattle” on another student. It is important to be able to recognize the signs and get involved immediately, if you feel your child is a victim.
Here are some tips from www.stopbullyingnow.com on what to do if you feel your child is a victim of bullying at school:
First, focus on your child. Be supportive and gather information about the bullying.
- Never tell your child to ignore the bullying and don’t blame you child for being bullied.
- Listen carefully to what your child tells you and learn as much as you can about the bullying tactics used, and when and where the bullying happened. Can your child name other children or adults who may have witnessed the bullying?
- Empathize with your child. Tell him/her that bullying is wrong, not their fault, and that you are glad he or she had the courage to tell you about it.
- Do not encourage physical retaliation.
Contact the teacher or principal. Keep your emotions in check and tell them you want to work this out together.
- Do not contact the parents of the bully.
- Expect the abuse to stop and carefully monitor the situation, in case it happens again.
- Help your child to become more resilient to such experiences by nurturing their self-esteem through participation in activities, sports and events.
Learn more about the mission of the Pacer Center, Teens Against Bullying, the Stop Bullying Now campaign and what you can do to ‘take a stand, lend a hand and stop bullying now!’