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PAWS-ITIVELY Amazing Pets: How a Furry Friend Can Help Victims Of Bullying

11 May 2017 | by | Posted in: Health

According to a report published by the National Center for Education Statistics, . The effects—both psychological and physical—can be life altering and, sadly, life ending. Depression, fear of going to school (or where the bullying has taken place), a crash in self-esteem and even attempting suicide are among the many repercussions of childhood bullying. While many children will experience some form of bullying in their youth, parents are not powerless in helping a child to cope and heal from the trauma. The role of parents in helping a child heal differs in each situation, and even when the bully has been identified and the abuse has been stopped, the battle still continues for the victim. Sometimes a teen or child wants to confide in parents as a comforting solace; sometimes a professional therapist is the key to build up self-esteem and talk through the trauma and pain. For other kids, maybe a new activity proves to be the path to healing. Still, some bullying victims need a soothing companion and confidant and a therapy animal becomes the ideal solution. Therapy dogs help comfort children who suffer from psychological or physical trauma. Some animals also assist individuals with a range of disabilities, patients in hospice care, or those who have been hospitalized for serious illnesses. Therapy animals must go through a rigid certification program to ensure that they can handle such sensitive situations. These animals provide cuddles, companionship, a listening ear and unconditional love. For victims of bullying—especially those who have deep psychological trauma—the comfort, warmth and affection of a therapy dog can be a source of amazing healing. And one school in Kansas has seen first-hand the beneficial presence of a therapy dog. Landon Middle School in Topeka, Kan. utilizes two therapy dogs to help prevent bullying by teaching empathy to students. In an interview with news station WIBW in Topeka, the school’s psychologist, Stephanie Avila, said that the animals provide a source of comfort to victims of bullying and help teach kindness to the bullies themselves. "The kids that are the bullies they have a lot of work to do because they have issues that are creating this, and so the dogs help get to those issues and bring them to the surface so we can work with that to eliminate it," Avila said in an interview with the station. close For families without access to a therapy dog, the family pet also acts as a source of comfort for kids. And sometimes the love and companionship of a beloved member of the family might mean even more to a hurting child. According to the America Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology (AACAP), pets provide many comforting benefits to children. A family pet acts as a silent confidant who can catch and keep secrets and allows the child to simply talk without judgment or worry. Of course, they also provide a physical presence and affection…and give unconditional love. For parents who are interested in adopting (or buying) a furry friend for their child, focus on dog breeds that are known for their gentle demeanor with kids. The best dogs for kids include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles and even smaller terriers like the loyal and happy (and absolutely cuddly!) Norwich Terrier.   While each child’s battle with bullying is unique, all victims of bullying have the need to feel loved, appreciated, valued. Every child is priceless and worthy of the amazing future that lies before them. Victims of bullying might feel broken, but the pieces can be put back together. With the right support system, hope and healing is “paw-ssible.”

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