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Essential tips for parents:
Teach your kids empathy. Nothing drives home a point faster than walking a mile in someone else's shoes. If your kids truly understand what someone else is going through, they're less likely to bully someone -- or passively witness others being bullied.
Help kids understand the line between funny and cruel. Kids' online communication is often purposely ambiguous or accidentally cruel -- both of which can lead to misunderstandings. If drama starts brewing, ask your kid to call or speak face to face with their friend to clear it up.
Make sure they talk to someone (even if it's not you). As kids enter the middle school years, their circle of friends and trusted adults widens. Kids need a responsible adult to confide in -- their school counselor, their music teacher, even the parent of a friend.Talk to your kid about who they can go to if trouble is brewing.
Help your kid be an upstander -- not a bystander. Kids are hesitant to get involved, in case the bully turns their sights on them. But there are ways to allow your kid to work behind the scenes to reach out to the victim, get an adult involved, and prevent more cruel behavior.
Show your kid how to stop it. Tell kids not to respond or retaliate. Not feeding the bully can stop the cycle. And -- if anything does happen -- save the evidence.
Article by Caroline Knorr. Published 4/28/2011 and available at: