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How fathers can help with teenage bullying

Stories of teenage bullying have dominated the national news in recent months. Several teens have gone so far as to commit suicide in response to the physical, verbal and emotional taunting by their peers.

According to the Heroes and Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit center for parents, one in 10 students is bullied at least once a week, and one in three has experienced bullying as either a bully or a target during the average school term.

Teens who are targets of bullies may feel tense, anxious and afraid. Their self-esteem and performance in school may suffer and they may become withdrawn, depressed and insecure.

But experts say there are things fathers can do if they suspect their teens are being bullied.

Dads should watch for signs of bullying and make sure to keep the lines of communication open. Talking with teens and letting them know that they're not alone can be reassuring.

Reaching out to teachers and other school officials is often necessary in order to solve the problem as well.

In addition, fathers may encourage their kids to respond to their aggressors in an assertive, confident way. Teens who are physically bullied, however, may be coached to simply walk away from tense situations.

Fathers may also help their teens build self-confidence with physical activities, cultivating new friendships or speaking with a counselor.