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The Competent Parent: Bullies in middle school

Headshot2011Welcome to our weekly online series on parenting advice with Annapolis expert Dr. Deborah Wood.

Bullies in Middle School

Dear Dr. Debbie,


My oldest will be going to middle school next year, and I’m nervous for him. He doesn’t have a lot of friends, and even though he’s a pretty good athlete, I’ve heard a lot of fighting goes on at the school he’ll be going to.

In His Corner


Dear In His Corner,

There are some simple rules you can teach him to prevent him from being the physical/emotional target of a bully or gang. The first is to never be outnumbered. Go to the bathroom with a buddy. Walk to and from school or the bus stop with a friend or friends.

The second is to always know where your nearest adult is and keep close tabs on them. Stop to say, “hi” to a teacher/administrator/custodian/cafeteria worker while walking between classes. Sit near the driver on a bus.

Talk to your son about trusting his instincts around unsafe people and unsafe situations. The hair on the back of your neck, the butterflies in your stomach, the “uh oh” feeling that things are about to go wrong–these things can keep you safe. Bullying is a good topic for conversation and maybe you have some life experiences to share to help keep him safe. Outsmarting, outrunning, and, if you fall victim, outclassing the bully by not lowering to his standards with revenge. Unfortunately, aggressive people can be found in many places, and middle school is certainly no exception.

Dr. Debbie

Dr. Deborah Wood is a child development specialist in Annapolis. She holds a doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland at College Park and is founding director of the Chesapeake Children’s Museum. Long time fans and new readers can find many of her “Understanding Children” columns archived on the Chesapeake Family Magazine website. You can find her online at drdebbiewood.com

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments or submit a question to Dr. Debbie at editor@chesapeakefamily.com

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