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Tips on providing a safe space for children to have hard conversations

How to spot signs of bullying
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 6:20 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Many parents are having important but difficult discussions about bullying. It’s happening after a lawsuit was filed alleging sexual battery and bullying at Cedar Creek School in Ruston. We talked to a parent and experts about the best ways to have these important conversations.

Jennifer Haneline says she was shocked when her daughter asked about the alleged allegations but she’s happy to know her daughter feels safe talking to her. A child sparking the conversation about bullying and sexual assault helps break down communication barriers.

“When she brought that up, it occurred to me all the kids at the schools are talking about it, the teachers are talking about it. So it was really important for me to take that time to remind my daughter about what peer pressure is and what bullying is,” said Jennifer Haneline, a mother.

Local experts say sometimes bullying and sexual assault are difficult for children to discuss with their parents. They say parents must provide a safe space for children to talk or provide them with professional assistance.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people experience bullying behaviors in childhood. It’s estimated that one in five children experience bullying at some point in their lives. It is a problem. It’s a big problem, but it’s a problem they can get help with,” said Melanie Clark, a Wells Springs Sexual Assault Coordinator, and Therapist.

Nicki Fletcher, a Family Solutions Register Social Worker says it can be difficult for parents to spot signs that a child is being bullied but she gives a few tips on what to be aware of.

“So the first thing you want to look for is changes in mood. So they may be sad, a little more depressed, a little more anxious than normal. You want to look for excuses for not wanting to go to school.”

Clark says Well Springs provides free programs for school-age children. It’s designed to prevent bullying and help children develop healthy relationships.

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