Carol Costello, Catherine Bradshaw, Johns Hopkins School of Health, bullies, bullied, Kevin Jennings, Oklahoma City's Western Heights High School, suzan le, Rachel Simmons, "Odd Girl Out", Marisa Velasco,
by Carol Costello and Bob Ruff
(CNN) – At one time or another most anyone who has ever gone to school either has known a bully, been bullied or bullied others.
Dr. Catherine Bradshaw, of the Johns Hopkins School of Health told us that about 10% of all school children have been bullied, another 10% did the bullying, and still another 10% both bullied and were bullied themselves.
Recently we reported that the Federal Government has taken notice, holding the first-ever bullying summit in August. And they've put up a comprehensive web site called "Stop Bullying Now" . But even the Federal Government's man in charge of school safety, Kevin Jennings, told us, "it's taken us a long time to develop a bullying problem. It's going to take some time to solve it."
Until that happens, parents and their children are faced with the question: How do you deal with a bully?
At Oklahoma City's Western Heights High School students are pledging to protect the bullied. It's especially important to Suzan Le, a senior. She knows how bullying feels:
"People always said I was really ugly, and I never knew it affected me so much. And like people would ask if I was a boy or a girl. And I was hurt. And I never wanted that to happen. And it lowered my self esteem really bad. And I never wanted to go to school."
Rachel Simmons wrote "Odd Girl Out" - she's an expert on bullying. She cautions parents that "the way an adult intervenes is just as important as the fact that they're intervening at all."
A good first step? CALM DOWN.
"Don't communicate with anyone, another parent or the school until you are calm, and able to have a respectful conversation. Because it's very easy to get marginalized as the crazy parent in a school."
Next: DOCUMENT how your child is being bullied.
Then: ASK your child what he or she wants you to do.
Simmons says that it's critical that a parent remembers that "you are not the one who has to walk into that school for eight hours a day. And you may want to do solution-A, but if you do that solution your child may be mercilessly retaliated against.
Simmons says bullies are often popular, socially skilled kids who can enlist an army of bullies.
Marisa Velasco, along with Suzan Le, is also participating in Western Heights' anti-bullying campaign. Velasco knows exactly what Simmons is talking about. In junior high school, she was a bully. Why?
"I don't really know if there was a real reason. I guess it was just an easy target I guess." She adds that it was easier to bully because she saw others doing the same thing.
Did it make her feel better? "It's not that it made me feel better, it's that I knew they felt worse."
Which brings us to how bullies ought to be stopped. DON'T HUMILIATE THEM.
Simmons: "You humiliate a bully publicly you are much more likely to see retaliation. Sit down with a child and say, this is what I'm seeing. It's not acceptable. I know you're capable of more. And if it happens again, these are the consequences."
What about charging bullies or their parents with a crime?
Simmons thinks - generally - it's a bad idea. Making an example of a kid or a family by throwing the book at them is not going to change behavior. Kids don't care about other kids who are made examples of. What you want to do, she says, is help kids become better citizens. It's a tougher road but, in the end, more effective.
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