FARGO, ND. (Valley News Live) - With national surveys reporting that schools are the number one place where bullying occurs, Essentia Psychologist Jo Ellison says it's a good idea for parents to have an open conversation about bullying.
"I don't think you want to go in expecting to be bullied, but I think just making sure kids understand that they feel like they can talk to their parents about things coming up," Ellison said.
Ellison says sparking these conversations could make it easier for kids to open up if something does happen.
"Keeping that good open dialog with your kids to make sure that they are feeling comfortable telling you about it or that if there was a big shift in their friend group or how they are being treated by their friends that you would know about it," Ellison said.
While it may not be the easiest conversation to bring up, Ellison says it's important to address how your kids should deal with the issue of bullying.
"I think it's always a good thing to get people to think about how they might handle certain types of situations,” Ellison said. “Helping them learn those developmental skills to go about standing up for themselves or being able to identify when their being treated inappropriately or reaching out for help."
She says parents can even role-play how certain conversations might go if their child were to see or experience bullying explaining that they should never bully back, but instead, stand up for themselves, walk away and get help.
"I think we can all set examples for our kids by standing up to bullying, even that we see around us as adults," Ellison said.
Having these conversations can help prepare for the circumstances that parents hope their children will never have to deal with.
Ellison also says it's important for parents to know the correct places to go if bullying does occur. She says schools in our area often have bullying policies where incidents can be reported.
More information about bullying prevention, warning signs and effects: https://www.stopbullying.gov/