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Social worker encourages students to report bullying

Social worker Ken Skouby said bullying happens most frequently in a school setting, but it's parents at home that may notice the effects of bullying on their child first. (KRCG 13)

October is Anti-Bullying Month, and experts say unless bullying is reported, it can frequently go unchecked.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 spoke with SSM Health Social Worker Ken Skouby about how to encourage children to speak up if they witness or experience bullying.

He said reporting bullies can put a quick stop to harassment; but for many kids, it's not an easy thing to do. "There's always fear that the person who's doing the bullying may feel that the child who is reporting the issue is doing something wrong and they deserve it, or that it could get worse, that type of thing," he said.

Skouby said it doesn't matter who kids report bullying to, but it should be someone they trust. "A PE teacher, maybe. It could be a janitor, it could be the school lunch lady" he said. "Anybody they have a relationship with and they feel comfortable with."

He said before many children feel okay telling an adult about what's going on, they need to know their concerns won't be brushed off. "They have to feel like there's not going to be a repercussion on them, and feel comfortable sharing it with someone," he said. "And also, they need to know that by reporting bullying, it will make a difference. Something will change. Somebody is going to listen to them. Somebody is going to believe them about what's going on."

While Skouby said kids should be encouraged to report bullying at school, he also said parents at home will likely be the first adult to notice something could be wrong or off with their child.

If parents do notice their child becoming withdrawn, he suggested asking open ended questions about general topics, such as: "What was the best part of your day today? What happened today? What did you have for lunch? What happened at lunch? Who are your friends? Who did you eat lunch with today?"

If your child shares that they're dealing with bullying, Skouby said the most important thing parents can do is listen, and take their child's concerns seriously. Watch KRCG 13 at 5 p.m. next Friday for our next Family First segment - we'll talk to a psychologist about the importance of being assertive when dealing with bullies.

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