Preventing bullying as the school year starts

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- It's a time that many kids look forward to, in a little over two weeks school bells will be ringing.

The start of a fresh school year means new clothes, new friends, and new teachers. But for some students a new school year can mean the start of seeing their bullies face-to-face.

“Having that conversation with kids as they are heading back not just who are victims but kids that are potentially bullies themselves to really stress kindness,” Gunderson Health System pediatrician Kelly Hodgson Kline said.

Kline stresses having conversations with your kids no matter the age. She says it is key to ending the bullying cycle.

“Giving kids the ability to speak up whether it’s to tell the bully themselves I’m not putting up with this anymore or the child that's witnessing the bullying who thinks they can’t do anything that their voice matters,” Kline said.

“It is sad you see (bullying) happen every day and I think we really need to focus on each individual and what they are going through like inside and outside of the classroom,” KinderCare teacher Danielle Stultz said.

Stultz says giving kids individual attention and addressing bullying when it happens makes a difference.

“It’s something a teacher has to do when they see it if you see bullying happening you have to stop it right when it happens,” Stultz added.

But relying on adults to prevent bullying isn’t always the answer. Kline says adults only intervene about 4% of the time which is why it’s important to encourage kids to say something if they see bullying.

“They have a powerful voice and to not be a bystander but to be what’s called an upstander to take a stand to end that bullying cycle,” Kline said.

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