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Burn Victim Michael Brewer Speaks Out Against Bullying

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Michael Brewer, the Florida teen who nearly died after "friends" allegedly doused him with rubbing alcohol and set him on fire during a dispute over a video game, is speaking out against bullying.

He says that any child who is being bullied should tell an adult what's going on before things escalate.

"If you try to [handle it] yourself, they are going to do something even worse," he told ABC News.

Protect your children from bullies with this advice from Ross Ellis, founder and chief executive officer of Love Our Children USA, the national nonprofit leader on child violence prevention:

Make Sure Kindness Starts at Home: "The reality is, any kid can become a bully or be victimized themselves, so it's crucial to take preventive measures now," says Ellis. "Bullying is a learned behavior. So when kids see you criticize others -- 'Can you believe what Jill was wearing?' -- they mimic your actions out in the world. What's more, insecurity usually triggers a bully's behavior. So raising confident and empathetic children will have a two-fold effect: Not only will your kids have positive self-esteem, but they'll be more likely to stand up for other kids who are being harassed."

Develop a Buddy System: "It's a fact that bullies rarely strike groups; they just don't have the guts," says Ellis. "If your child is being harassed, make sure he or she walks around school with a friend, or is within earshot of a teacher."

Teach Your Child to Take Appropriate Action: Tell your kid that if someone does start bullying them, they should look the bully in the eye and say, "I don't like your teasing. Stop it right now." Then they should walk away and report the incident. If the bully pushes, teach your kid not to hit back. "Bullies want a reaction, so if the victim reciprocates, the problem will worsen," says Ellis.

Take Action Yourself: "As tempting as it may be to sit down with the troublemaker's parents, don't," says Ellis. "Most parents are defensive toward criticism of their child, or are in denial there's even a problem." A better idea? Go to the school directly and record every incident of harassment. Ask your school to develop an anti-bullying program, then form a watchdog group with other parents.

According to Ellis, preventing your child from being bullied will be mostly your responsibility, because most schools are not taking the issue seriously enough.

Has your child ever been bullied? If so, how did you handle it? Comment below.


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