In light of the recent gang assault which led to the death of a young Chicago honors student, I would like to remind parents that school bullies can pose a danger to their children.

Unfortunately, bullying occurs on a daily basis in schools and schoolyards throughout the borough. In some instances, cases have escalated to assaults that have resulted in police involvement. It is important to recognize that children who are bullied experience real suffering that can interfere with their social and emotional development, as well as their school performance. Tragically in 2008, a young Brooklyn girl was reported to have committed suicide as a direct result of what her parents believe was ongoing bullying.

My staff is taking a proactive approach to bullying in schools and in the community. My School Advocacy Bureau is developing a program where staff members would educate students, teachers and parents about the dangers of bullying and advise them on how to take action against this type of behavior.

Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Typically, it is repeated over time. Bullying can take many forms, such as:

    • hitting and/or punching (physical bullying)
    • teasing or name-calling (verbal bullying)
    • intimidation using gestures or social exclusion (nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying)
    • sending insulting messages by phone or computer e-mail (cyber bullying).
  • Warning Signs that your child is being bullied:
    • Appears sad, moody or depressed when he or she comes home
    • Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school
    • Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs)
    • Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time
    • Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings
    • Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
  • How you can help if your child is being bullied:
    • Take it seriously -- don't minimize the experience.
    • Contact your child's school to report what is going on.
    • Bolster your child's self-esteem in other areas. Help them find an activity where they fit in.
    • Don't assume the bullying has stopped if your child stops talking about it.
    • Give consistent advice.
    • Encourage your child to seek help and report all bullying incidents.

If you have questions about bullying call my hotline, at 718-250-3395.
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Charles J. Hynes