To Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center, bullying is "one of the most underrated but enduring problems in schools today." In the U.S., surveys show that as many as one in four kids say they've been bullied recently in school.

    Kids may be afraid or ashamed to tell adults about a bully.  What can you do to help your kids protect themselves from a bully?

    • Encourage your kids to tell you, a counselor, a teacher, or another adult when they're having a problem. It's important for them to let someone know early, before the situation escalates.
    • Explain the difference between tattling and telling. Tattling is when you report something  to get someone in trouble. Telling is when you report that you or someone else is in danger.
    • Let your school know your safety worries. Suggest closer supervision in hallways, bathrooms, lunchrooms, under stairways, and on the playground. Your kids have the right to feel safe at school, so find out what your school's policies on bullies are.
    • Ask the school or PTA to sponsor safety training workshops and to initiate a peer mediation program, in which staff and students are trained in nonviolent conflict resolution. For more information, contact the National Center for Assault Prevention, 609-582-7000, or the National School Safety Center, 805-373-9977.
    • Studies have shown that children are also bullied online, via instant messaging or email. Parents are often unaware of this problem, since many children do not report it to their parents. Bullies may find the anonymous nature of email and instant messaging an attractive means of threatening their victims.
    • To help your child avoid cyber bullying, monitor his Internet use by keeping the computer in the family room, or another common room in your house, and teach your child never to open email or accept instant messages from an unknown sender. If your child does receive a harassing message, teach him not to reply and to let you know right away. You can contact your Internet Service Provider to block the sender from your email, or use the "block" or "ban" feature on your instant messaging program to deter the cyber bully.