TUSD forum targets bullying
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV)-When it comes to everyday people, especially young people, words can hurt and as we have seen far too often lately, such bullying words can even lead to death.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people resulting in an average of 4400 deaths per year and for every one of those young people who take their own lives, an estimated one hundred others attempt it.
A British study found that half of young suicides are related to bullying and girls aged 10 to 14 are at an even higher risk of taking their own lives.
Ashlynn Conner of Ridge Farm, Illinois was one of those girls. She was bullied so badly, a few weeks ago, she asked her mother if she could be home schooled.
Her mother said no and the next morning her sister found her hanging in her closet by a scarf. She was just ten years old.
14 year old Jamie Rodemeyer committed suicide after being bullied for being gay. In a parting YouTube video he thanked Lady Gaga for letting him know he was "born this way"---the title of one of her songs.
Upon learning of his death, the singer tweeted: "The past days I've spent reflecting, crying, and yelling." She and her mother began a foundation to help other bullying victims and Tuesday she was invited to the White House for a meeting with high level officials to find a way to do something about the deadly problem and she isn't the only one doing something.
Tuesday night parents, teachers and students came together at Tucson High School to learn more about how to fight back against bullying. They learned students who witness bullying often have the best chance to stop it.
Shelby Gravette is president of Tucson High's Anti Bullying club----formed three months after bullying led a friend to kill himself.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked her: "Is it good to see attention paid to all this now?" She said, "Yeah, cause I think there will be more lives saved and less suicides and stuff in the schools so I think it helps a lot."
Bullying is hardly new, but texting and internet give bullies new ways to inflict pain.
But in-person persecution is still what's most common; and experts say witnesses who are fellow students can be the best deterrent, by intervening, or simply walking away to take away the audience bullies crave.
Doctor Sheri Bauman of the U of A College of Education says modern research shows bullying is not some harmless experience kids have growing up.
She says adults have to convince young victims of bullying not to keep it a secret---and convince them they won't over-react and make things worse.
She says, "Let's say you come to me, I'm the parent and tell me someone's been bullying you. The kid is quite justifiably concerned that I'm going to march in there with both guns blaring and cause a big disturbance and further humiliate me."
That means asking the child what he or she wants the parent to do.
Shelby Gravette says:"As long as the kids know that you do want to help and that you're not trying to push a big thing on them then they might be a little more willing."
Here are some of the signs your child is the victim of bullies: They don't want to go to school. They have injuries they can't explain and they may say they've lost valuable items like ipods or fancy shoes.
Your child may be a bully if he or she suddenly has valuable things they're not explaining. They may have a history of fighting. They may have a strong desire to be popular, and tend to not take responsibility for their actions.