We’re living in a time of an ever-increasing bullying epidemic. While bullying has always been present, the use of social media and more public awareness has made it more prevalent today. The recent presidential campaigns and election have further intensified our current state of bullying prevalence. While people of all ages have been affected, the ramifications of bullying from political leaders and public opinions can be most consequential to school-aged children.

Kids may not fully understand the details of political policies, but can understand the rage and hatred that has been tied to the recent election. Fear, and in some cases, a lack of understanding has caused kids to lash out at others or be victims of bullying construed from political promises, threats and accusations.

On January 20th, our new President will be inaugurated. During this time of change and uncertainty, there will most likely be more bullying centered around current politics. Regardless of political views, parents should help protect their children by educating, empowering and showing empathy.

Here are 5 ways parents can help fight bullying before, during and after the inauguration:

Be available. Make time to engage with your child so that he or she can talk to you – and let your child know that you’re listening. You can help your child to make sense of the comments made by or about our leaders by empathetically exploring your child’s concerns.

Be honest. Having open, honest communication with your children is very important. You may not have all the answers, but you can help your child by being authentic, taking an educational stance and explaining what you do know. Discuss your own beliefs, morals and values. Let your child know that it’s alright to disagree with certain viewpoints and behaviors, but it’s not ok to bully or bring others down.

Be encouraging. Give examples to your child of respectful people, and compare them to people who are bullies. Help empower your child to be a good influence and to recognize that there is opportunity for negative situations to be turned around and made better.

Be proactive. Children will hear about the behavior and comments made by public figures from peers at school, the Internet, social media and television. Your child may form his or her opinions from these influences. Make sure your child also hears from you.

Be a good role model. Children can be easily influenced and need clear guidelines. Take the opportunities you have to discuss and demonstrate how we treat each other. Clarify what behaviors are right and wrong.

As a parent, you may not be able to prevent political bullying. But, you can help empower your child to move forward and find positive spaces.

For more advice, please feel free to contact Danielle Matthew at the Empowerment Space at (818) 267-4282. You can also learn more about the Empowerment Space program at www.empowerment.space.