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Psychological Bullying

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My 11-year-old son is being bullied at school. Although the "ambush" physical attacks on my son have slowed down, the bully is now into psychological attacks -- teasing him about his father's death in a car accident, being in a LD class, etc. My son's self esteem is nose-diving. He's not handling anger well at all and he's hurt and confused by why the kid is persecuting him. Please help.

A: Talk with the principal and counselor at your son's school immediately and make sure they know you expect this bullying to stop. They need to do whatever they must (making sure your son has no contact with the other boy, involving his parents in the discussions) to make sure your son is safe from verbal as well as physical bullying.

Your son is in great need of counseling -- not only for the bullying issues, but also for the loss of his father as well as his learning differences. Talk with the school counselor. She may be able to give your son some individual time or include him in an anger-management or bereavement group. You may decide that your son needs additional help outside the school; if so, the counselor or your pediatrician can refer you to a therapist in your community.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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