Talking to a bully's parents

Dorothy Espelage, PhD Professor of Child Development, shares advice for parents on the best methods for talking to the parents of your child's bully in order to stop the child's bullying
How to Talk to the Parents of Your Child's Bully
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Talking to a bully's parents

It's always a difficult decision for a parent to decide if they will go and have a conversation with the parents of a bully. It might be risky, but I think it's worth the risk. It might be that the parents of the victim and the parents of the bully talk to each other and it becomes aggressive, and it goes no where. I think it's also important to realize that you may go and talk to a parent of a child that is bullying, that the parent has no idea that their child was engaging in this type of behavior. It's such an underground phenomenon, and many parents don't realize their kids are involved in bullying. I say, most certainly, take the risk. Knock on the door, call the parents of a bully, if it goes no where then certainly we cannot predict what parent's are going to respond under the circumstances given that parents are extremely defensive about their children's behavior. I think it would be very important to reach out. As a society, I think we as adults need to take responsibility as parents. They need to own up and realize that their kid is engaging in bullying behavior.

Dorothy Espelage, PhD Professor of Child Development, shares advice for parents on the best methods for talking to the parents of your child's bully in order to stop the child's bullying


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Dorothy Espelage

Professor of Child Development

Dorothy L. Espelage, PhD, is a Professor of Child Development in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  She is a University Scholar and has fellow status in Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.  She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University in 1997. She has conducted research on bullying, homophobic teasing, sexual harassment, and dating violence for the last 18 years. As a result, she presents regularly at regional, national, and international conferences and is author on over 90 professional publications.  She is co-editor of four published books including Bullying in North American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective on Prevention and Intervention and International Handbook of Bullying published by Routledge. She is Associate Editor of the Journal of Counseling Psychology. She has presented thousands of workshops and in-service training seminars for teachers, administrators, counselors, and social workers across the U.S.  Her research focuses on translating empirical findings into prevention and intervention programming.  She is currently funded by the CDC for a randomized clinical trial of a bullying prevention program in 36 middle schools. She authored a 2011 White House Brief on bullying among LGBTQ youth and attended the White House Conference in 2011. She is also funded by National Science Foundation to develop better methods to assess bullying among adolescents and CDC and NIJ are funding a longitudinal study of predictors of bullying and dating violence among adolescents. Dr. Espelage has appeared on many television news and talk shows, including The Today Show; CNN; CBS Evening News; The Oprah Winfrey Show, Anderson, Anderson 360 and has been quoted in the national print press, including Time Magazine, USA Today, People, Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. Her dedicated team of undergraduate and graduate students are committed to the dissemination of the research through various mechanisms.

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