Whatever the setting -- rural, suburban or big city -- bullying is an unfortunate fact of life for many children. They experience it most often at school, in places with the least adult supervision, such as the bathroom, playground or on the walk home.
Bullying tends to peak after the transition from elementary to middle school as children negotiate new peer groups, then wanes during high school. This type of intimidation isn't always easy to recognize, because one set of bullying behaviors doesn't necessarily resemble another. A second-grader pushing a classmate in the cafeteria is simple to spot, but as children age into the tween years, bullying takes less obvious forms, such as verbal insults, excluding peers from social situations or posting mean or untrue rumors online. Still, there are a few telltale signs that your child is being bullied: failing grades, acting out at home and at school, and slipping into solitary activities like online gaming or virtual role play.
If you suspect changes in your tween's attitude or behavior are related to bullying, become your child's No. 1 ally. With your support, your tween can cope -- especially if you consider these five strategies, beginning on the next page.