Tips to Help Prevent Hazing at Your Child’s School

Despite the increased awareness on bullying, and similar behaviors such as hazing, harassment and stalking, incidents of these activities continue to affect children and young adults across the nation, with a hazing incident just reported recently at a local Los Angeles high school.

Hazing is defined as the use of embarrassing and often dangerous or illegal activities by a person or group to initiate new members – and is against the law in many states. Many of these activities or rituals occur on or near school campuses and can include forced alcohol or other substance use, physical abuse, being tied up or abandoned, demeaning treatment and ridicule.

Here are a few steps to help prevent hazing on your child’s team or school campus.

Encourage Responsible Leaders – Ensure that your child’s school or team plans for, develops, and works with positive, proactive leaders who will not plan or permit hazing in any form.

Discuss Your Views on Hazing – Meet with your child’s school officials, coaches and/or local leaders to learn more about the school’s policies, and discuss your views on hazing. Partner with these leaders on a hazing/bullying prevention plan and ensure that everyone is accountable.

Install a Big Brother/Sister System on the Team – If your child is involved in sports, encourage coaches to pair up younger athletes or newcomers with veteran athletes to watch out for and mentor them in their new environment.

Report Hazing Incidents – Report any incident of hazing immediately. Let your child know that he can come to you or another trusted adult if they anticipate or experience any incident of hazing. Talk openly with your child, reminding him that you have zero tolerance for this behavior and are there to help him, should he, or anyone at his school, experience this. Just like with bullying, assure your child that he or she is not at fault should he experience any form of hazing, and the attacker’s behavior is the problem. Assure them that they will not be a “tattle” by reporting an incident, instead he will be helping the situation.

Model Positive Behaviors – Help your kids understand the meaning of respect and tolerance by modeling friendly, caring behavior and showing how friends, family and peers act positively toward each other.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources website.

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Dealing with Bullies

Hopefully your child’s back-to-school routine doesn’t include a bully! Occasionally, friends and classmates may tease each other in a fun, friendly and mutual manner.  But when teasing becomes hurtful, unkind and constant, it crosses the line into bullying. And that needs to stop.

If you suspect your child is being bullied, or she approaches you about the subject, here’s some simple advice you can offer her for improving the situation:

• Tell an adult.  Teachers, school staff, parents, and volunteers at school can all help stop bullying.

• Use the buddy system and avoid the bully.  Stick to your friends to ensure you’re never alone with the bully.

• Hold the anger.  It’s natural to get upset, but getting a reaction out of you will only encourage the bully to continue the behavior.  Practice “cool down” strategies, such as counting to 10, taking deep breaths or walking away.

• Act brave, walk away and ignore the bully.  Firmly and clearly tell the bully to stop, and then walk away.  Ignore hurtful remarks.  By ignoring the bully, you’re showing you don’t care, and hopefully the bully will get bored with bothering you.

Make sure your child continues to talk to you about the situation.  Help her understand that she is not to blame.  The bully is the one behaving badly, not her. Try to lessen the impact of bullying at home, by encouraging her to get together with friends, join clubs, or participate in sports.  Find activities that can help your child feel confident and strong.

And, lastly, let her know that together you’ll find a solution.

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Cyberbullying: Tips Parents Should Know

With the nation’s recent focus on bullying, there are a lot of great tools and resources out there, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Stop Bullying Now!”website, which parents can take advantage of to inform themselves and their families about this unsettling epidemic.

Cyberbullying, in particular, has been a focus with more and more kids using social networking as a way to interact and communicate. As a fierce advocate for the health and well being of children, CHOC offers some great tips on Cyberbullying for parents. Check it out here: http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=397

Also, check out this article on what parents can do to protect their kids by setting rules for media moderation: http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=552

Leave us a comment and let us know what your family or school is doing to tackle this important issue.