(Click the image to view the Huffington Post article)Yet another young life has been tragically lost because of bullying. Last week, fourteen-year-old Phillip Parker committed suicide. His parents say he had been cruelly bullied for being gay.

Parents, if you know your child is being bullied for any reason, realize that she or he is in a toxic environment. Take action to save your child from unnecessary misery, trauma, and even death.

It’s not enough to love your kids and to be upset and worried about the bullying. Listen to your kids and pay attention.  Be aware that troubled youth will often try to protect their parents and solve problems on their own until they are overwhelmed by despair. Don’t leave deciding what to do up to kids because they might be afraid of making a change. Make sure kids who are being bullied get help. Advocate for change at the school. Change schools or homeschool if this doesn’t work. Get counseling to deal with the effects of bullying. Find positive peer groups for your child.

Educators, don’t stand by and let homophobic or other cruel jokes happen without addressing them. Stop this behavior. Teach witnesses how to speak up effectively when they hear putdowns. Teach kids being bullied how to protect their hearts, advocate for themselves, and get help.

Put the safety of kids first, ahead of political agendas or discomfort with different lifestyles.

Here is an article about Bullying and Homophobia that can be of help: http://kidpower.org/library/article/bullying-and-homophobia-addressing-identity-based-attacks-while-respecting-different-beliefs/

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; and The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People.

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