Is your child being bullied?

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Bullying used to mean face-to-face torment, but like everything else it seems, bullying has gone digital.

With such pervasive access to the Internet, online bullying has become a serious problem, one that's often hard to deal with because of the anonymous nature of many online interactions.

The thing to remember about bullying, especially cyber bullying, is that anyone can be a victim, even those you might not think would be a target.

The effects of bullying can go far beyond hurt feelings. Researchers say there’s a strong link between bullying and suicide.

Bullying doesn't have to involve an elaborate planned or coordinated attack or a physical assault. It can be as simple as name calling.

It's estimated that about 160,000 kids miss school every day because of bullying.

Now that school is back in session, there are more opportunities for bullying and more opportunities to do something about it. Chip Coffey, a psychotherapist and the director of outpatient service at St. Luke's Behavior Health Center, sat down with Tara Hitchcock to discuss the troubling issue.

Signs that child might be a victim of bullying include a low self-image, depression or anger, failures at school, avoiding school and engaging in violence at school.

The first thing parents should do is talk to their children. You can’t help them if you don’t know the problem exists. Parent might also consider getting school officials involved. A new law in Arizona requires them to take action if bullying is going on at the school.

Although it might feel like an invasion of privacy, monitoring your child’s Internet use is extremely important, and it’s not just about Facebook and Twitter. Consider searching your child’s name online. You might be surprised by what you find.

“You need to spend time knowing what your child is doing, what sites they’re going to, and seeing what’s coming up for them [when you search],” Coffey explained.

Also, keep the family’s computer in a common room like the kitchen or family room. That allows you to check in when they’re online.

Bullying is about power and control. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but when victims of bullying learn to take control of the situation and take back their power, they can put an end to the damaging situation. One of the most important things for a victim of bullying to realize is that he or she is not alone.

Coffey said those who bully often need as much help as those on the receiving end. To that end, counseling can be beneficial to everybody involved.

For more information about bullying, call 602-251-8535.