Bullying: Is your child a target? Learn the warning signs of bullying

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – The first lady of Phoenix is hosting a first-of-its-kind event designed to teach parents the sings of bullying and give them tools to help their children and possibly even save their kids’ lives.

Putting an end to bullying is something about which Nicole Stanton, wife of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, is passionate. To that end, she launched the Stop Bullying AZ initiative in 2012. When Stanton hosted the Arizona Anti-Bullying Summit at Arizona State University to launch the initiative last year, she called bullying “a malignancy that has afflicted our schools for way too long.”

Her goal is to empower not just victims of bullying, but also bystanders who witness it.

The issue is close to her heart. Her older brother was bullied when they were kids. These days, bullying doesn’t just happen in schools, it also happens online.

“Because of cyberbullying, because of the social networking aspect of it, you can’t escape it,” Stanton told 3TV’s Kaley O’Kelley. “It’s pervasive. … Parents oftentimes don’t know what’s going with their kids.”

Wednesday’s event is geared toward parents and will feature a panel discussion focused on the warning signs of bullying, a question-and-answer session and training for parents.

Kids who are targets of bullies often are reluctant to come forward, but there are signs for which parent can watch.

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Lost/damaged items (i.e. clothes, books, electronics, jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches
  • Faking illness to avoid school or activities
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Self-destructive behavior

“Where most other bullying events focus on policy and school climate, this is the first event ever to address concerns from parents and provide them with concrete actionable tools they can use in their own communities and in their own homes,” reads a news release about the event.

The event comes on the heels of two arrests in Florida in connection with a bullied girl’s suicide.

Rebecca Sedwick, 12, jumped to her death on Sept. 9. Authorities say she was bullied by as many as 15 girls. Two girls believed to be the ringleaders, a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old, have been charged with stalking and released to their parents.

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.