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How to talk to your kids about bullying

Whether you’re sending a little one off to school for the first time or raising a high schooler, it’s never too early – or too late – to start this life-saving conversation.

It’s the most important back-to-school conversation you can have with your kids, and no matter how old your son or daughter is, there’s a book out there that will help you do it. Here are our favorites.

Pre-school
“Rocco the Platypus Gets Bullied” by Rich Bergman and illustrated by Alexander Yogi

This is a good book to use if you are talking about bullying with your kids for the first time. Credit: Provided This is a good book to read with your child if you are talking about bullying for the first time.
Credit: Provided

Introducing the concept of bullying through this animal story is a good way to ease into the topic. The story is about a platypus named Rocco who wants more than anything for the ducks, otters and beavers to like him, but they see him as an outsider. But Rocco wins them over through his kind actions and not stooping to their level.

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Elementary school
"Jake Drake, Bully Buster” by Andrew Clements

"Jake Drake Bully Buster" teaches kids how to stand up to bullies without being mean. Credit: Provided "Jake Drake Bully Buster" teaches kids how to stand up to bullies without being mean.
Credit: Provided

This story about how a kid goes from being a bully’s favorite target to taking him down has a “Revenge of the Nerds” feel to it that kids will love. It shows them what to do if they are bullied, without turning into a bully themselves. Use it as a way to spark conversations about what your son or daughter has seen going on in his or her school.

Middle school
“Runt” by Nora Raleigh Baskin

"Runt" explores the gray areas of bullying. Credit: Provided "Runt" explores the gray areas of bullying.
Credit: Provided

Popular culture typically paints one person as a bully and one person as a victim, but what makes this novel so relatable is that it explores the gray areas in between. By incorporating online tactics and things that happen at school but are too subtle to be caught by teachers, it shows a side of bullying that isn’t normally seen – and the consequences of actions both large and small.

High school
“Positive” by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin

"Positive" educates teens about HIV and bullying through one heartbreaking true story. Credit: Provided "Positive" educates teens about HIV and bullying through one heartbreaking true story.
Credit: Provided

This moving memoir not only puts the effects of bullying into perspective for teens but also educates about HIV. As a middle-schooler, Paige Rawl was bullied so much about her positive HIV-status that she stopped going to school and attempted to take her own life. It’s a powerful story about how hurtful words and rumors can be, and also how to pick yourself up and become stronger than your tormentors.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence

 
 
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