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Local Experts Discuss Back to School Bullying

Now that school's in session, some parents and kids may have to deal with the schoolyard bullies. KSMU's Kristian Kriner spoke with local experts about how children can cope with bullies.

Bullying can happen anywhere including on this school playground in Springfield.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 30 percent of all children grades six through 10 have been bullied or have bullied other kids during the school year.

Local experts say bullying happens as early as age two and both boys and girls engage in bullying.

William Robison is an Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at the Forest Institute.

He says children bully each other because they have self-esteem issues and they feel better when they can pick on other children.

"If you're not successful in the classroom, if you're not successful on the ball field. If you're not successful in sports or gymnastics or something else, you can be successful because you can pick on the kid who is even less successful than you are and all of us, I think we gravitate to picking on other people because it helps us to feel better about ourselves," Robison said.

Robison says the best response to bullying is to walk away and immediately tell a teacher or a parent.

He says parents need to ask their kids about their school day in detail to make sure their kids aren't being bullied.

"Listen to your kids. Let your kids have an opportunity to tell you abut what's going on. Take it seriously. You may not necessarily be able to be there to protect them the whole time, but if they know that they have support from you that's a big thing," Robison said.

Robison says if you don't talk to your kids about bullying they will think the world is unsafe and no one is looking out for them.

Dunn Jones is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Springfield.

He says there are signs that will help parents find out if their child is being bullied.

"They see that the child is more withdrawn tends to hold their head down or shoulders down more often, becomes tearful more easily or upset more easily over small things," Jones said.

Jones says children who are bullied are more prone to depression and can harm their future relationships.

He says if the bullying gets worse parents need to take their kids to a counselor.

"Taking them to some kind of license professional counselor or psychologist who does behavior intervention type of therapy who can talk to your children or your children and yourselves to help you and your children work through these issues. Help them build their self-esteem and help you understand some of the problems that are going on," Jones said.

Jones says if your children ignore the bullies and talk to a teacher or parent, then the bullying will eventually stop.

For KSMU News, I'm Kristian Kriner.