Bullying. What immediately comes to mind is children playing on a playground and one kid is picked on.

What is a parent to do?

I have to admit, the first time my daughter came home in kindergarten and said someone had called her a name on the playground, my instinct was to march to that playground and give the other little kid a piece of my mind. Not too adult of a response, but I just hurt so badly that someone would hurt my daughter like that. I instead talked to her about going to a teacher immediately and how we should treat others like we would want them to treat us.

Then in middle school bullying takes a different form–in the halls, in the lunch room. More conniving, kids know when and were to bully without getting caught.

What is a parent to do?

I met repeatedly with the principal and teachers to confront it and taught my daughter different ways she could respond to being bullied.

Now in high school with the internet and social networking, bullying looks even more different–more aggressive and ruthless. Teens hide behind a screen and say things they never would say in person. Boys tend to use more physical bullying while girls often gang up on another and use exclusion as a bullying technique. Words cut, but spreading lies and gossiping punctures.

I recently read statistics that about 2.7 million students are being bullied each year, and in 2010 about 160,000 children missed school every day just out of fear of being bullied. Cyberbullying is relentless as it invades a person even in the safety of their own home through instant messages, email, text messages, and social networking sites. Cyberbullying ensures no where is safe.

Bullying doesn’t just happen in schools or on playgrounds. It’s all around us–even in churches and youth groups. Unfortunately no place seems to be exempt from bullying these days. Our children are bombarded at every corner.

What is a parent to do?

Parents may feel helpless in these situations, but we aren’t. Whether our child is being bullied at school, electronically, in youth group, or at church most importantly we need to let our child know we are there to listen and we are standing tall with them!

Depending on the age of a child, being our child’s advocate may look different the older they get. However, we can make sure our child knows we are willing to take a stand for them.

We need to pray for our child and ask God to give us wisdom to know how to approach the situation. We can also discuss with our child how they may respond in the future to such attacks.

Apart from all the discussion and teaching moments, we can make sure to encourage our children to surround themselves with those who love and support them, and those who are kind … even if that leaves just your immediate family. They are not alone!

As parents, we may not be able to stop bullies, but we can stand with our children when they fall victims to such attacks.