More than 35 million people have watched as Keaton Jones of Tennessee describes in painful detail how kids pick on him for being different in a heartbreaking, viral video has sparked a national conversation.
"Why do they bully?" asked a tearful Jones on video.
"It’s important for us to realize it’s not a normal part of growing up and that kids shouldn’t have to suffer this way," said Dr. Peter Raffalli, founder and director of the Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention and Advocacy Collaborative at Children’s Hospital in Boston.
Dr. Raffalli says they work with parents at the Bullying Clinic on ways to effectively start a conversation with their children about bullying to try to find out if they’ve been a victim of it.
"Break the ice by just talking about how your school is," said Dr. Raffalli. "Is it a friendly place? Do kids tend to get along well? Do you see other kids picking on other kids and then is anybody picking on you?"
Dr. Raffalli says it helps to speak in plain language without using the term "bullying," which has negative connotations.
He says behavior changes are also a good indicator.
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"Like their sleep pattern or their grades go down or all of a sudden, a kid who used to like to go to school now is trying to come up with reasons not to go to school," he said.
Dr. Raffalli says bringing awareness to bullying like Jones did is certainly key to helping stop it.
"I don’t know if he realizes how wonderful what he did really is," he said.
Dr. Raffalli says often your child’s classroom teacher is a great resource in determining whether your child is the victim of bullying or even the aggressor. And then you can take steps from there to try to deal with it.