Kids never too young to talk about bullying

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PHOENIX -- It might not surprise you to learn that the suspect in Monday's deadly school shooting about 30 miles from Cleveland reportedly had been bullied. Three teens were killed. Two more were injured.

While police have not officially released a motive for the shooting, students at the school say the suspect had been the target of bullies.

Kimberly Cabral with MASK -- Mothers Awareness on School-aged Kids -- sat down to discuss the issue of bullying with 3TV's Kaley O'Kelley.

Cabral founded MASK in 2007 after a conversation with her child, a six-grader. That conversation clued her in to things she had no idea were happening in elementary school.

MASK is what came out of that conversation, and it has one goal: "Saving children’s lives by engaging, educating and empowering families."

"The mission of Mothers Awareness on School-Age Kids is to educate both parents and children about the issues facing our youth today and to empower children to make safe, healthy choices," reads the organization's website.

Bullying is one of those issues. A particularly destructive one. Cabral says kids are never too young to discuss the things they will face as they get older.

"I started the conversation with my daughter at 5 years old," Cabral said. "It's so easy to talk about."

Cabral suggested role playing can really help kids understand and learn how to respond to potentially dangerous situations. Once you talk to them about bullying, they will recognize it when they see it.

"Because [we talked about it], my daughter is so aware of what bullying is," Cabral said.

Bullying isn't just an issue facing children. Adults can be bullied, too.

"We have to watch what we're showing our kids as parents, as well," Cabral said.

Keeping those lines of communication open is essential. In addition, you have to be aware of what your child is doing and how he or she might -- or might not -- fit into social groups at school.

Monitoring social-media accounts like Facebook and Twitter can be a good way to do this. The idea is to be aware of what your child is going through and equip them to handle it.

"Our goal is to educate the entire family to be well equipped if and when issues do arise," the MASK site says. "Preparing and empowering children early will place them on a positive track that will lead to healthy decisions."

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