ALBANY, N.Y. -- The first few weeks of school can be intimidating regardless of the grade level. It is a time when students get to see who's who, who hangs with who and what the dynamics of the new school year may bring.
"When kids go off to school, they need to feel like this is going to be a really positive experience," says Dr. Stephen Birchak. "[They need to] not be hypervigilant for the bad things that can happen."
Dr. Birchak is a professor at the College of St. Rose. Standing only four feet nine inches tall, he has experienced his fair share of bullying and now makes it his life's mission to help others dealing with similar hurt.
"I can't go out and take tall lessons no more so than I can take hair lessons and grow some extra hair," says Dr. Birchak. "So whatever is me, that's my best me."
That is the message Dr. Birchak tries to help students understand, but he says it starts at home with the parents.
"If your kids can go off everyday and say this is my best me and I like my best me that piece right there is going to be one of the most important lessons that we can give to our kids," explains Dr. Birchak.
Times have changed though. With the abundance now of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, bullying does not just happen in the lunchroom and hallways anymore.
"We can't be so presumptuous to say we know what it's like to grow up with Facebook, Twitter and social media," says Dr. Birchak. "We have no idea, so maybe one of the best things we can do for our kids is say 'I have no idea what it's like to be a kid today. Help me to understand what this world is like.'"
Dr. Birchak also discusses how important it is as parents to share past experiences with their children.
"I think it's really important to also share our experiences. What did you deal with when you were a kid that lets kids know that you want them to do a better job than you did."
Bullying can come in all shapes and sizes. If you are a parent worried about your child being bullied or even being the bully, Dr. Birchak says speak up because there are many resources available that can help.