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August 17th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Helping Teenage Girls Survive Bullying

zEach week I get thousands of letters from you, and I’m always amazed how many of them are about girls who are being bullied by other girls. It’s a subject that almost never makes headlines in the news media. Occasionally, female bullying is fodder for such Hollywood teen comedies as Mean Girls. But the truth is that the girls in those movies are caricatures, created to get laughs more than anything else.

No one who writes me is kidding around. The stories I read from girls (or the parents of girls) who’ve been bullied range from heartbreaking to terrifying. That’s why I’m soon going to do a very important show on this topic. Here’s what I want to know: Are we at a point where girls bullying girls is getting as bad as — or even worse than — boys bullying boys?  And why is there such bullying in the first place? Is it hormonal? Psychological? Are girls that competitive? Is there some insecurity driving the bullying?

Let me hear from you, especially if you have your own bullying story. I’d love your input before we tape the show. If you agree, we might even use your story. Thanks.

239 Responses to “Helping Teenage Girls Survive Bullying”

  1. Regina Imbriale says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    I wanted to comment on bullying and on a recent news report in my area regarding two students planning to shoot students and teachers from a local high school in Long island , NY. I was a junior high student bullied constantly in the mid 1970’s. My hair was cut in home ec, I was thrown against lockers, knocked down during gym class, my books being stolen out of my locker so I couldn’t study for my finals, and of course there was the name calling. I even got an award in class for the student who spent most of the time in the guidance counselors office. My parents did not go to the school about the bullying, I just deal with it.This kind of bullying have been around forever so why is shootings in schools so common? In the 1970’s television and both parents who worked were very different. We had channels 2-13 and watched the Brady Bunch and Partridge Family and that was fine. I think between the programming on tv today, both parents working and technology, and lack of some kind of believe in God, the kids today are lost. There is so much more I can say, but I feel so sad for all the kids out there who are going through this craziness. They need to know there are better ways of getting back, first don’t let anyone take your’e spirit and be the best person you can be, so when they are miserable adults you are one happy and successful adult.

  2. Alice Meehan says:

    I would like to facilitate an anti-bullying campaign in our county school system. I have been brewing and stewing about this for quite sometime. My son will be entering middle school next year, and the stories from other moms and the news are astounding. On our 6 oclock news this evening (WBOY) they are featuring a girl who has been harrassed and bullied for the past 7 months or so–taking antidepressants, etc. Bullies threatened her, her horse and other pets. Her horse was ultimately shot and killed. More details tonight. . . (The school obviously was non-responsive and/or totally ineffective over the months in dealing with this).

    We, as a community, need to do as much as we can to preserve our kids’ constitutional rights, entrusting them to the care of others, WHILE educating them.

    Some of the ideas I’ve read about on one site or another include: 1) Kids, teachers and administrators signing the anti-bullying “treaties”. 2) Asking kids to list the bullies in their school–if the name shows up four or more times—PROBABLY a bully. 3) Offering inservices, individual or group help; linking or referring as necessary.

    Any suggestions would be helpful. . .

  3. My wife was bullied in school as was i. I got my black belt, became a teacher with a behavior modification background and author. I’m not going to let that happen to our son

    Rick

  4. Stacy Klein says:

    My daughter just completed her freshman year at a private Catholic college prep school here in Southern California. For the past two to three months, she has been relentlessy bullied – verbally, physically and via texting, FormSpring and Facebook by one specific girl and her friends. One of these girls threatened to put my daughter “back in the hospital” next time she saw her. My daughter has been hospitalized three times in the past six months and I believe her health problems are due in part to this stress. I have kept copies of the physical threats sent via text (I actually responded and told the girl that I would forward any further physical threats to the Sheriff’s department) and have screen shots of the main bully’s FormSpring pages that are devoted to starting rumors and tearing down my daughter. The bully actually began physically shoving my daughter at school but stopped when fellow students stepped in and verbally berated her. The bully aslo spends a great deal of time telling other girls that my daughter makes deparaging remarks about them – as far as I can tell untrue! Part of me wants to take all this to the Dean of Students at the school but am not sure this might only make matters worse for my daughter. Despite having many friends (who defend her for the most part) and being on the Pep Squad, my daughter desparately wants to change schools to a smaller private school where she feels she will be safe from this type of harrassment. Do I make her stay at the Catholic school and face the problem, get involved and throw the bully under the bus or just let my daughter run away and hide at the smaller school where her opportunities will be limited? I am at my wits end……

  5. Mistina Wheeler says:

    I was bullied bad in middle school.. I would go as far as to make myself sick so I could stay home somedays..I seemed to get picked on by just as many boys as I did girls..As of today I still don’t have a lot of female friends. I believe it is somewhat hormonal and somewhat an internal machine that tells you to ward off any threat. Females are very competitive and seem to bully more when they lack self esteem.

  6. Nancy Schmidt says:

    My daughter has been bullied since grade school. We were just talking about this yesterday.I have offered to do all kinds of things to try to stop it, but she is worried about repercussions. They kept calling her fat last year (she wasn’t) but now she is eating like there’s no tomorrow. She says “They say I’m fat so I guess they’re right!” Her & a black boy & a Mexican girl are treated badly by the girls & boys. Her the worse though. They stole her blackberry & threw her papers all over. I wanted to call the police & was surprised the school didn’t report the theft. If the police were showing up it might help. She says the reprisals would be severe. This was @ Pioneer Middle school, Shelton, WA. The moms don’t want me to be in their church club because some of them are teachers & they probably don’t want to have to think about the blind eye they put to the bullying. I feel like patrolling the hall @ Olympic Middle School where she’ll be going next year,but I can’t, I have a 3yo.

  7. Renee Rinaudo says:

    As a mother of 5 children and 1 step-child, I have yet to have one good year without one of my children being emotionally hurt by their peers. This is normal right? Well, I guess to an extent it is. It must fall into that same quote, “no pain, no gain”. If your friends hurt you, you learn from it? Where do we draw the line as parents? It appears as they move into the next level, middle school; the pain becomes much to bear for both child and parent. The ability to guide your children along, without controlling the situation, becomes harder. Tweens and teens begin to try to handle situations alone. This can be a danger zone for those who are not strong enough to handle those who are by far the wittiest bullies around. I am lucky to have taught my children to confide in me, and in turn I am able to give them the best advice while biting my tongue from saying what I really wish I could say about some of their “friends”. I mean, I am a really empathetic person, but I am only human!

    It appears that many middle school girls have not learned the foundation of friendship. There is constant talk of BFFL’s (Best Friends for Life). These BFFL’s can happen within minutes of a conversation starting via text, FaceBook, or instant messaging. So Ashley becomes Catie’s friend, and then Allie is sad because she was BFFL’s with Ashley yesterday. Then Allie hates Ashley for betraying her, and Catie for stealing her BFFL! Sounds so trivial, but it hurts and causes anger. We know where anger can bring us… I believe this is where the problem lies. These children, mostly girls, do not know what friendship is, which leaves open for a lot easier bullying of other girls. They have no real feelings for their friend, because there is absolutely no time to grow. There are relationships started and broken over a phone text.

    The pain, confusion that my twin son and daughter endured during their first year of middle school was horrible. From my 12 year old being called whore, to my son having his pants pulled down in a crowd, I didn’t think I could last the whole year. Not to mention they are both popular, so it didn’t make a difference what crowd they were in. It appears even the unpopular kids have joined in the reindeer games. You know… the internet can give those kids a lot more confidence to bring with them to school. They can say what they want on the internet, then go to school with a puffed of attitude.

    Schools are so concerned with no tolerance, yet bullying and anger are overrunning schools all over the country. How about a nice seminar about friendship or relationships?

    I won’t dismiss there were bullies in my schools, but the ratio was far less than it is now. I may not be in constant contact with friends from Kindergarten, but I have a few that if they called me today, up would surface that lasting caring connection I made with them 25, ok… 35 years ago. It is a nice feeling, and I can only hope that my children can find others who have been taught as I am trying to teach my own children. I do not feel obligated to keep in contact with these friends, but I am not afraid to keep the lines of communication with open arms should we have a memory to share, or comment about each others beautiful family, new home, or new puppy.

  8. Nancy Schmidt says:

    I have heard there is a program for schools that unites them by having the students stand in a gymnasium on one side & the moderator asks that all the kids that have ever had anyone be mean to them to come to the other side & then they get more specific. I forget what that is. Dr. Phil, I can’t stand the thought of my daughter going through 4 more yrs. of hell. There were a lot more incidences I did not mention. Is there any way you can get that at Olympic Bay Jr. Hi & Shelton HS. They are right next to each other in WA. I will start going to PTA. I used to have to work on the nights they had it. I am so upset, I’m afraid I would say something like how their kids are all haters. She wants to move to LA. She wants to move somewhere where there are lots of people so she’ll have more friends. The only reason they ever want her around is because she’s funny.

  9. Nancy Schmidt says:

    You know, I think I am going to advertise for all the people who were bullies, who have seen the errors of their ways to contact me, Then I’ll get all the kids who are bullied & if any of them are moving they’ll tell us who the haters are & the reformed bullies can set them straight before they hurt any more. All the mean girls are having sex so they can have a boyfriend so they are probably taking out their low self esteem for selling their bodies for a good time on the girls they victimize. My DD is so lucky I didn’t say anything @ promotion.

  10. Nicole Baumgartner says:

    I went through many years of hell in school, all the way from elementary school to junior high and even a bit of high school. I was a victim of bullying for many reasons: I had bad teeth and was very sensitive, and wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome until my sophomore year of high school. Behaviors and sensitivites associated with my AS caused me no end of being teased and taunted- I was singled out for my odd walk (I frequently walked on the balls of my feets), the fact that when I got overexcited/overstimulated I would flap my arms like a bird trying to fly, and my social naivete. Other children would deliberately torment me by using especially the last quality against me, fooling me into thinking they were my friends and then making fun of me behind my back, doing cruel things in front of me to upset me (I am fond of spiders and they would catch them and kill them in front of me just to make me cry), and would insult my appearance. The bullying and sheer anxiety over my undiagnosed Asperger’s led me to spiral into a deep depression in late junior high-early high school and I even contemplated suicide. Because I had no idea I had a developmental disability, I couldn’t fathom what was “wrong” with me and was convinced that I was a freak and would never find a boyfriend or anyone who would want to marry me and had the mindset that I was nothing but a huge bundle of problems, a burden no one would ever want to take on. To this day I have an inherent distrust of people which is hard to overcome, and I am often near-paranoid in thinking my coworkers are only pretending to like me and are secretly making fun of me behind my back, like the bullies did in gradeschool. Despite my fears, I am attempting to advocate for others with autism in any way I can; I have published an article in a local magazine about living with Asperger’s Syndrome and have been interviewed by both local news stations on the same topic. I have even spoken to a large convention on autism and visited a classroom as a guest speaker about living with my disability. People, especially children, can be so cruel…you never know if that person you are making fun of, taunting, teasing, or tormenting may be already living in torment with an undiagnosed or diagnosed disability and cannot help their odd behaviors. I appeal to everyone to teach their children tolerance for differences and for children to be kind to each other, as you never know the damage you could create for someone like me years down the road.

  11. Candace Jones says:

    I was bullied in junior high school and it left me with lifetime scars. I grew up in New Jersey which I thought was pretty tough at times. The outgoing kids were popular no matter what… and if you were shy, you were an instant target. Most of the bullying wasn’t bad, thank goodness. But I have this memory of many girls just being super cold to me, even when I tried to be friendly with them. They really put effort into it. Then the boys would snicker and laugh at me… and I still don’t know what they were laughing at (perhaps thats a good thing that I don’t know). The worst part was when my two friends (who I thought were friends cuz we hung out everyday after school) told the most popular girl that I wanted to kick her butt (which was something that never crossed my mind, and I was too small to be a figher anyway). The popular girl was super beautiful and with low self-esteem… she was apparently pretty volatile. She started a fight with me in the hallway and all the kids formed a circle. I was shocked when she told me she heard I wanted to fight her. I felt so targeted. We yelled a little bit and I ran into a classroom and hid. It was a big deal for me and the principal got involved. What sucks is that none of the teachers did anything. Nothing. Their doors were open and waiting for students to enter the classrooms. What cowards! No one said anything to either of us girls except the principal, who after speaking to us both and then to me alone said “don’t worry, school will be over in a few months and then you won’t have to deal with this anymore”. This was in 1987 when I think the schools were less crowded then they are now. Regardless, there were other situations like this when I felt targeted or put down for no reason. I’ve had huge issues trusting women as girl friends later in life… mostly because I sense how competitve they are. I must say, it gets way easier as I get older… and I’ve learned so much about myself and my sense of humor keeps growing all the time. Thank goodness I’ve found some self-esteem… but it takes a lot of work – especially for those of us who didn’t have it easy when we were younger.

    For people raising kids today, I would say that you need to have them do things with kids outside of their hometown – they need to see that their world is bigger than their school and neighborhood. These kids are looking for approval from their peers, and they need to get out of the cycle of being defined by the small group of kids they see everyday (especially if something embaressing happened to them and everyone knows about it). Really, the best thing is to give the bullied kids a challenge (not just sports in their hometown) where they can succeed in a new environment. That can be helping other kids in need at a homeless shelter (anywhere, take a trip with them to Haiti), or an Outward Bound adventure for a week during the summer. I believe all the kids need these experiences and it will help them to grow and escape the small world they live in. Also, people who are sincerely well traveled are usually highly tolerant of other people’s differences.

  12. Marnie says:

    My eight year old daughter came home from school and said, “I want to kill myself.” This was a result of a classmate making her feel so bad that my daughter did not know what to do. It seemed that my daughter needed approval from this other girl. I had my daughter speek to the school guidance counsler, I stopped allowing my daughter to have contact with this other girl outside of school, I requested that next year the two girls not be in the same room, and I emphasized the importance of choosing “good friends”. But my daughter still wants to write appology letters to this girl and make sure that the girl is not mad at her… The relationship with this girl no longer consumes my daughter, but those words still echo in my head “I want to kill myself”. In your show, please address what parents can do to build their daughters self esteem.

  13. Angeli B says:

    I myself am 23 years, the bullying started with me since I went to high school.
    I knew no advice what to do. I could not go to my brothers, they always said that I did it myself. because he hung around with those people. He was popular at school, and I was not. I could not go to my mother, she abused me and was too scared, and my dad, I did not want to bother because my parents were separating.
    throughout my childhood, I was always beaten and insulted by groups of girls.

    I had eight years to fight against it, it has become my youth. And it’s still going on till now. and imagine how difficult it is to be bullied if you have many problems at home because your mother and brother beat you up for nothing.
    and used as Cinderella in the house, and you can not even make your own homework. every day the same routine for 8 years long.

    now I’m fighting against harassment not only at school or on the street, but in my own family too with my nephews, cousins and nieces.
    I was thinking about my whole life .. I had gone to observe the whole situation and I have found ways to deal with it and believe me, it has really helped me. i’m standing above all.
    it has made me stronger and made me wiser. I am no longer worried about what people say or does or think of me and what they do with it.

    my way of dealing..

    A. Don’t get down by what other people say about you or what they do with it, that’s just what they want, you should ignore it if you respond, that’s precisely what they want and if you ignore them after a while they get bored, then they will stop automatically.

    B. Always try to stand above everything.. no matter how large/big or how many they are, you should just laugh at them and do your own thing.

    C. Never lower yourself to another man his level, always stand above otherwise you are just like them!

    I’ve learned a lot in these days:
    never give up always believe and have confidence in yourself and remember one thing:
    The only reason people spreading gossip about you, bullying, hate or laugh at you is because they will never be like you are.
    Always be yourself no matter what situation you’re in , it doesn’t matter, you don’t need anyone to feel yourself a better person, it’s about YOU! that you know who you are and that you’re not afraid to show it to people .. people always bullying because they are jealous or they may not be as you are and that’s something you should be proud of.

    show them that you are standing above their level and that you stand strong in your shoes, because then they notice that you naturally are a strong person and they can’t mess with you remember in your life you are your own champion, never give up!

  14. Christine King says:

    “Just ignore them!” That is what my family used to tell me. When you’re having stones thrown at you, or their unwanted lunch, or being spat on – yeah OK, just ignore them. That advice doesn’t always work! Back in the 70s, bullying was not considered a big issue. I am SO glad that is changing. Even now at 47 years old, if I hear a group of people all start laughing in a certain way, I can’t help but turn around to make sure it isn’t me they’re laughing at. It never is, but that reaction is embedded in me.
    I was called a big fat ugly dog, ugly pig, ugly cow, and much worse things once high school started. It happened every day. I was overprotected by my family, not allowed to go out, make friends, or even have a bicycle. So when I got to school, I was the prime target, the one who copped it every day. Nobody ever did anything about it, not the teachers, my parents, or the bystanders.
    Of course telling them to “Leave me alone!” or “Go away!” just made it worse. It was just what they wanted – needed – to make them feel better about themselves.

    Hurled abuse and oranges of primary school
    Refined in later years to “You’re – not – cool”
    “You’re not one of us and will never be”
    I didn’t see it then, but they were setting me free.

    That’s from a poem I wrote a long time ago on being bullied, called “What are ya?”
    (That’s a phrase some people use in Australia when they want to make someone feel like there’s something wrong with them!) I heard it a lot at school, but now I’m a better person for it. It still hurts, though. And it makes me really angry that it still goes on, and that parents are so insensitive that they bring up kids who have no understanding of respect for your fellow human beings.
    That’s where it starts. At home. For Gods sake, don’t have kids unless you think you can teach them to be decent people!

    I would like to start a blog like this one, specifically about being bullied at school. I have started one, actually, but do not understand computer language as well as some. I will learn, I hope. I would like people to read what I have to say, and be able to respond, just like this, and have access to a blog they can read, and exchange stories on. Also, an exchange of tips and ideas on what to do to avoid being bullied in the first place. People my age who want to “vent”, and kids at school now, who are in the thick of it. If you have the time, Dr Phil, could you reply with some advice on how to get started?

  15. Christine King says:

    By the way, Y’all – it’s 11.20 PM over here!

    Have a nice day, I’m going to bed!

  16. I enjoy all the comments here….

    i’m pondering about beginning my own blog. i’m asking yourself if it is hard to operate your own blog. I certainly enjoy commenting. many thanks Bloggers….

  17. Stephanie says:

    I didn’t get to see the show but I have a teenage daughter who is very disrespectful and mouthy at home. She hits her younger siblings and goes around the house trying to act so tough. The toughness goes out the window when kids her age start picking on her. She is disresoectful to me and her step-dad but worships her biological dad that doesn’t want to see her because of dislike for me. It feels to me like treat everyone who is on your side like crap and have nothing for those that treat you like crap. I’m at my wits end she is one of four the others are boys and I pray that they will not present the same struggles. I’m tired.

  18. I much like it!…

    Amazing article. I need you up-to-date your weblog much more often, I just cannot appear to be to own adequate of one’s blog. I saved your weblog in my bookmarks. Would it be feasible to do a guest article sometime?…

  19. Kim says:

    Our school systems have put an anti-bullying program in place, however the administration does not follow through with the consquences to the bulliers. How in the world can any of our children get a fair shake when the system isn’t taken seriously????? I have 2 of 3 children that have been bullied through out their time in school. One is STILL dealing with it. She gets it hard due to letting her bulliers know that she’s happy with who she is, and is comfortable with herself.

  20. Sally says:

    This is getting complicated, but I will try to sort it out. I have pasted reference material in boxes and pasted below.
    The story of Seth’s last day is getting so twisted that I am beginning to suspect someone has something to hide.
    I’ve been reading the stuff kids write on Trevor ( http://www.thetrevorproject.org/suicide-resources/suicidal-signs I am NOT accusing anyone of anything, but I am beginning to wonder if someone has something to hide. I’m beginning to think that Judy Walsh had custody of Seth because he was being bullied by his own parents (and maybe his siblings as well). If that’s true, then why did she leave Seth with his mother?
    Read the rest of this and tell me what you think.
    Judy Walsh has been speaking for the family, not Seth’s mother. Why? Did Seth die on the 21st and they begged for privacy because their family needed to get their stories straight? or the police were asking questions?
    There have been rumors about Judy and Jim Walsh for years. I know Judy has been physically abused, because she said so. I don’t know who abused her. Jim Walsh was a principal at two schools and was fired from both jobs. The rumor is that the reason is that he was a bigot and he was mean to kids he did not like.
    The number of days Seth lived on life support does not make sense.
    Did he die on the 21st or the 28th?
    On the 29th, Judy Walsh and her husband Jim Walsh held a community meeting about bullying in their home and called the media who filmed the meeting and put it on TV. How is it possible for grieving grandparents to do this the day after their grandson died? On TV, Jim Walsh accuses the school district of not enforcing education code and that is why his grandson is dead.
    Based on what I was told, here is what happened the day Seth died.
    Seth’s grandmother and legal guardian, Judy Walsh and his grandfather Jim Walsh were back east on another vacation. Apparently, Seth was left with his Mother (Judy Walsh’s daughter). Seth’s parents are getting a divorce and Seth was taking it very hard. So he was upset about that too.
    Sometime in late morning of Saturday, September 19th, Seth left home with his friends. Apparently, Seth hung out with some very rough kids. These kids ran into some other kids at the park. There was an argument. Some kids threatened to beat Seth up when they saw him alone. The two groups of kids threw threats back and forth and then went their own way. Seth was afraid and his friends were trying to make him feel better – talking about protecting him, beating up the kids who’d threatened him etc.
    Sometime in the afternoon, Seth and his friends ended up going to the recreation room at the senior housing complex across the street from Kmart. They spent the rest of the day and night there.
    At 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning, September 20th, the manager of the senior complex, told the kids it was time to go home. No one I know can answer these questions:
    1. At that time of morning, how did Seth get from the senior complex to his Mother’s house in Golden Hills. Did he walk? Did one of his friends have a car and drive him home? If yes, why was a 13 year old boy hanging out with a kid in high school? Did a parent pick them up and drive them home? If yes, what parent?
    2. Where was Seth’s mother?
    3. Why was a 13 year old boy out all night long?
    4. If Seth walked home, what happened along the way, who did he see, was he alone or with his friends?
    5. What happened when Seth got home sometime between 4:00 and 5:00 Sunday morning? Did he go in to the house? Did he talk to his mother? Did they argue?
    6. Or did Seth just sneak into the house or garage, get a rope and hang himself from a tree?
    The first time I heard that Seth had killed himself, this was what was said:
    Seth’s mother and brother came over to check on Seth and found him in the backyard hanging from a tree.
    Came over? Where did they come over to and from?
    What time did Seth hang himself and what time did they find him?
    This is starting to even more disturbing questions.
    According to reports from the family, Seth survived on life-support for nine days. However, according to friends of the family, Judy Walsh flew home on Monday, signed the papers, Seth was taken off life support and died immediately.
    There is something wrong with the family’s version of what happened to Seth. I hunted around and found this information.
    When someone is hung, they live between 3-12 seconds, depending on the method used. Even if someone is found quickly they still die. One man lived 30 minutes, but the hanging method was a really poor one and he was revived and lived a long life. ONE MAN?
    Seth was alive when his mother and brother found him, meaning they found him LESS than one minute after he hung himself.
    And that means they were awake when he hung himself.
    And that means that Seth had some interaction with his mother after he left the senior center.
    What happened on Seth’s way home?
    What time did he actually get home?
    What happened between the time Seth got home and the time he hung himself?
    Was anyone home when he got there?
    Did Seth call his mother to pick him up from the senior complex?
    If he did, was she angry that he’d stayed out so late? Did they argue?
    If he walked home or got a ride, was Seth’s mother awake when he got home? Or was she asleep?
    What time did Seth hang himself?
    What time did they find him?
    Was his neck snapped, or did he strangle when he hung himself?

  21. jessica says:

    I am actually a teen girl and am currently being bullied by girls who used to be good friends. It started out at the begining of the year with one or two girls not really liking me for no reason, and I was fine with that. But eventually it escalted to where I was at a football game and one girl was going around telling people not to talk to me and I would go away. I eventually just lost it, now I get frequent eye infections due to stress, i’ve stopped eating except for in private for fear of being called fat and my grades have severly dropped form a’s and b’s to c’s and d’s i’m still working it out but I have a long way to go before I get any real friends back. Also i’m looking into boarding schools or different schools so I can get away from the girls for just one year so I can re- gather myself. I’m so sick and stressed I really can’t take any more! Teen girls are the worst possible bullies ever!

  22. Sierra Snapp says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    I’m a junior in high school and I see others being bullied all the time. I’m not personally bullied but see it happen on a day to day bases. I’ve told a few of the students to stop picking on the others but then it just happens all over again the next day. I know the teachers hear it but don’t do anything about it because the student doesn’t say anything. Is there anything more I could do to try and help out these kids? I don’t know them I just stand up for them.

    Thanks for opening up about bullying and letting others know.

    -Sierra

  23. Debbie says:

    Dr. Phil.. I can’t reveal to much information but I hope you read this…My son was assaulted in November 2009 at the age of 14…It was his first year in high school,and he had never been into a fight before in his life..The lad that had assaulted him was a grade 12 football player.This all began with name calling – racist remarks..after the second day of my son coming home from school telling me this, I had notified the school to ask for the staff’s attention on this matter so it would not lead up to the point it had..By the middle of the week,my son was assaulted..split open and bleeding..Worse part of all….my son was suspending with no alternative school to attend an charged with uttering death threats from holding in the abuse at school for so long..His whole school year was lost due to him finally letting go,but he’s back in school this year..an we have taken legal action on the school for not intercepting when they were notified.Dr. Phil..I thank my lucky stars each and everyday that I still have my son.( ALIVE).

  24. canada goose says:

    thers but then it just happens all over again the next day. I know the teachers hear it but don’t do anything about it because the student doesn’t say anything. Is there anything more I could do to try and help out these kids? I don’t know them I just stand up for them.

    Thanks for opening up about bullying and letting others know.

  25. tara elderwood says:

    I understand that it is easier to bully now due to multimedia electronics; however, I believe middle and high school children are simply more angry, mean, self indulgent, bored, and entitled than ANY generation before. They are WAY TO FULL of themselves, the compassion is nonexistent and filter button is either broken or never developed in the 1st place. Mom’s, it is OUR job to fix this. Stop overindulging, over inflating, and overcompensating because you have to work…go back to teaching good old MANNERS and RESPECT and don’t hesitate to take the computer and phones away. The mattress on the floor could be the best medicine.

  26. Michelle says:

    My Daughter was a very bright outgoing child in both grade school and jr. high.
    As a freshman she was in AP sophomore classes and a Varsity Cheerleader. A very mean group of softball girls who my child didn’t even know started calling her slut every time they passed her in the hall. They would throw garbage on her. Tell her they were going to find her and gang rape her. They would surround her and shove her up to a locker and tell her what she did the last weekend and tell her they were always watching and would find her and kick her ass. They posted horrible things on face book and my space about her. If anyone had a picture of her they would write things such as slut whore and prego under her picture. Even after moving 700 mile away from our home town they continue to taunt her. On Christmas day they saw her in a Safeway parking lot and drove around her saying ” oh look the whore is back in town. Even girls who were suppose to be her friends would turn on her and join in on the facebook bulling. The true sad thing about all this is she was raped by four four boys on the high school football team. two boys were seniors and two were juniors. They invited her bowling. She was only fourteen years old and a virgin. They held her down and took turns. They burned her clothes and then told her what to say if she was asked what happened. Two of the boys bragged about the incident. They even gave it a name that is still talked about to this day 2 and a half years later.. Its called pass the _____.. and that is where her name goes. As a parent it kills me to see my child suffer in this way. She is stronger then anyone I know. I pray to God that she will continue to fight to live and not give in to this sadness and hatred. I also pray for those who are cruel and continue to cause pain and suffering to others.

  27. Jewel says:

    Dr Phil,
    My daugter is a 16 year old sophmore being bullied by 4 girls, the ring leader being a Senior. They follow her to class and hang around her in the hallways taunting her calling her names and insulting her, also telling her phsically abusive things that tey would like to do to her. She has started to retreat to her room everyday and sleeps alot. She has begged us not to go to school officials for fear of being labeled a snitch. She would rather us allow her to take care of it and ask them herself why they don’t like her and are so mean to her. I’ve explained to her that this could result in them all jumping her. I’m terrified for my daughter, but don’t know how to handle the situation. I feel as if my hands are tied. My natural instinct is to stand up and protect for my daughter, but I know that I could get into trouble and not be here to continue to protect her…Please help!

  28. Kessie says:

    I am the mother of a 12 year old girl. On 17DEC2010, on her way home from school some 9th grade girls followed her and her best friend. The 9th grade girls started everything by asking if they were 7th graders… from there the end result is one video taped with an Ipod, one first tried to get her best friend but failed to just egged it on, and the other one brutally beat my daughter. Before this my daughter never talked to them. She had to ID the 3 from a year book. As well did the witnesses. Since then when school resumed in January the “accidents” (as the school put it) started. The verbal and emotional bullying was in full force as well. It took us allowing the news to do a story about it to get the “accidents” to stop. But the verbal and emotional bullying continues. Even after the Sheriff spokesman releases to our paper that after talking to the witnesses and the girls accused that it did not appear that my daughter did anything to provoke the violence. Yet, these girls and others associated with them are spreading lies of how it happened and they say how my daughter deserved it. Kids think it is funny to walk past her at school and point at her saying, “Look its the skinny little white b**** that got the sh** kicked out of her by ________.” and then laugh. It is just disgusting to me. They video taped her getting beat. The beating has given her to this day 31 diagnosis, worst of which is the traumatic brain injury that left her with migranes, cognitive loss. My daughter was a girl that was involved in the Peer Groups that helps others, she was in advanced classes and participated in sports. Now she has a 504 and misses so much school she is failing many classes. She cannot play sports like she wanted to due to her head and neck injuries, she is lucky if she is even in school a full day from dizziness and migranes. And the bullies still torment her every chance they get. She already feels they have taken so much of her life away right now and just wants them to leave her alone.
    I am working with my child to the best I can on keeping her esteem up. But with lack of her seeing any justice right now it does not help. Pros. Atty. office still has not assigned charges. And the school only suspended the girls for 10 days, but started letting them back in one by one as early as only serving 3 days. And to make things worse against a doctor order the school had my daughter in a face to face meeting to try and relieve tensions. She was to appologize for things that she may or may not have done. That disgusted me as well. The victim appologizing for being a victim. This whole thing is a mess.
    Parents need to teach their children right from wrong. And especially in the beginning of their teenage years they should be working the hardest to keep communication with their children. I am so tired of hearing well this is just a fact of life. Kids will be kids. Change REALLY needs to happen. It is that mentality that makes this cycle continue. People say I would have a different stand point if it was my kid being the bully instead of the victim. Well, when my son was younger and he got up to the highest grade in the school and he got that cycle of mentality that kids get that they are in charge he did start picking on a kid ONE DAY. Yes, I state ONE DAY. Because I found out on day one. And for the next two weeks I walked him through the breakfast line, to class and at the end of day from class. I made him appologize to that boy. I made him appologize to that boys parents. And he was grounded from all electronic devices (which anyone knows in todays day and age, that is horror for a kid). But in the end he learned and him and that kid are best friends, as well as us parents are great friends to. I understand that not every parent is going to find out on the first day, but when they do find out they need to respond. Letting it go as just a fact of life or a kid thing needs to stop. The cycle will not stop until people make it stop.

    -An Army Wife, Mother of 3

  29. Julie says:

    Dr. Phil,
    My 14 year old daughter is biracial and attends New Richmond Middle School. She has been taunted over her “skin color” since kindergarten. This year, 8th grade, has been the worst yet. Earlier this year, she was hit numerous times by a boy in the Art room. I had to take her to the Doctor because we thought her arm was broken. She also had huge bruises on her hips from him hitting her so hard. He asked my daughter to pick a tree so he could hang her from the tree of her choice. He told a teacher in class that he wished he could have my daughter as his slave. He also threatened to stab my child in front of the teacher. I have gone through the chain of command at her school, including all the way to the school board, and nothing has been done. I recently opened a claim with the US Office of Civil Rights. It is so bad that even teachers do the bullying themselves. My daughter just had her 4th foot surgery, so she has been unable to participate in gym class. Because her surgeon sent a note saying no gym, the gym teacher decided to give her a D in gym due to attendance and participation. This has never been done to her before and she has had to miss a lot of gym due to her foot. Teachers have made comments to her about her grandfather. When she was threatened to be stabbed in front of her teacher, nothing was done to that child. She has been called N***** on numerous occassions. She was a straight A student and now struggles because she can’t even sleep at night. This is always on her mind. I would just like to get her story out there because schools need to start taking this a little more serious.

  30. I am trying every way I can think of to get sommme one from Dr Phil to read the article in the Salisbury Post, today, as well as the one from last week concerning the huge effort of an elementary school student who held a rally, invited sepeakers, wrote a cookbook to raise money, etc, because sheeeeeeeeee was bullied and is working as hard as possible to make people aware of it. Please go to the Salisbury Post from Sal. NC and read the article

  31. Elizabeth says:

    I am a public school teacher. My system hired Phil Chalmers to do a presentation for us, and it had great impact.

    Both of my children have experienced bullying. Four separate times on the bus, my children have had a child threaten to kill them. I contact the school directly as soon as I am aware. In my daughter’s case, she was bullied a great deal by the same child last year. I believe the girl who bullied her was struggling with her own self-esteem issues.

    I think we need increased professional development and more accountability for students and parents.

  32. Paula says:

    To All Teenage Girls and Boys:

    First of all, if a bully is attacking you on the internet, block them out !! Why would you continue to have this person abuse you. Secondly, report this bullying to the police or to whomever site you are using i.e. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace.

    I am 56 years old and when I was 14 years old I was severely beaten up in the 8th grade for exposing a girl who was having boys over for sex while she was baby-sitting for small children, I didn’t even know that I did this. She had left a note to another girlfriend in my homeroom desk and I was sick and tired of finding garbage in my desk each morning so I grabbed all the garbage and put it on my homeroom teacher’s desk and in that pile of garbage was this note. The teacher read it and called her parents. She got in trouble for this.

    One day after school I was approached by 4 girls and they slapped me in the face, knocked down my books in a huge puddle of water, pinned me up against fence and punched me hard in the stomach and in the face. After they left, I ran back into the school crying and called my stepmother and she called the police and had them all arrested. I was traumatized for years after this and I lost ALL my so-called friends, I was left all alone and went into severe depression. I was poked fun at, talked about and literally dreaded going to school each day, but I did it.

    Today, I found each of these girls on Facebook. I told them that I was scarred for life and that they each owed me a big apology, none of them responded, I think they were so ashamed of themselves as they all have children of their own now and probably wouldn’t withstand their children getting bullied or beaten up.

    I told each of these women that if I saw them in public, I would humiliate them and pull their covers in public. I wish I could beat them up, but that would be “the pot calling the kettle black”, I don’t want to be like that.

    Stand your ground people, call the cops, report them and if and when you are in school and the kids gang up on you, tell them that you mean business and that you will put them in detention or jail. If they touch you or hurt you, have them arrested for assault. Once the rest of the kids at school see that you mean business, they will be too afraid to come near you.

    Today, all these kids that deserted me years ago are my Facebook friends and they apologized for deserting me in my time of need, they all felt bad.

    Parents: Protect your kids, have them stay off the computer if they are getting bullied, get them counseling, have them take self-defense training, get the police involved. DO NOT LET YOUR CHILDREN SET THEIR PAGES ON THE INTERNET WHERE YOU CAN’T SEE WHAT’S GOING ON !! Check on your children’s internet activity and keep in touch with their friends at school. I didn’t tell my parents what was going on until it was too late. GET INVOLVED !!

  33. Jennifer Davis says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I am a true blue fan of yours since your days on Oprah. I’ve even been to 2 of your show tapings up in L.A. Your show today on cyber bullying really hit a nerve with me. As a mom of two smart, fun, beautiful kids, I can tell you that our school systems are failing our children. We are an average middle income family, with a stay at home mom, and a dad that many days works from home. As parents, we couldn’t be any more involved in our kids lives. We’ve almost always put our kids, our family first, and really it doesn’t seem like a difficult decision.

    Our daughter began getting bullied at school in 3rd grade by an overweight girl who our daughter had been friends with previously. Can you imagine my surprise, when my daughter started crying every morning before I took her to school. When I asked her what was wrong, her answer every time was she was afraid of being picked on again by this former friend turned bully. I went to my daughter’s teacher, told her the specific dates, places, times, and even specific things that were said to my daughter by this bully girl. I had it all in writing, and asked the teacher to help my daughter out. After a two weeks went by, and no change had happened, I decided to take matters into my own hands, and called the bully girls parents (remember, the two girls used to be friends, the bully girl had been at our house to swim, and I had met and spoke to both parents previously). I found out that the parents were divorcing, and a beloved grandparent was dying of cancer. Though I felt bad about these circumstances, I also was a girl when my parents divorced, and have lost all of my grandparents. The dad of the bully girl told me he was very sorry, and promised that he would put an end to this behavior. The mom of the bully freaked out, called the school principal to complain about me calling her (she was a teacher and knew the rules well). So, I had to explain the above to the principal, including that her teacher didn’t solve the problem, and that I didn’t see anything wrong with calling two parents whom both had been to my home to pick up their daughter after a play date with my daughter. Bottom line, I didn’t do anything wrong, and the bullying finally stopped.

    Since that date, there have been some more instances of bullying that I’ve had to help my daughter manage. I’ve gone to the school, spoken to each of her teachers, the vice principal and the school principal. Dr. Phil, I am on your team and really think our schools are so behind in handling bullying and cyber bullying. I think there needs to be a zero tolerance at schools. I think teachers and administrators need training, just like the students need training. We all need to get on the same page. I will promise to give my time, if you could implement an anti-bullying program into our school system. I am as serious as a heart attack and hope you can offer more help to protect the innocent in our country from bullying in the future. I have a Bachelor Degree in Behavioral Science, and am very passionate about children, and protecting them.

    Sincerely,

    Jennifer Davis

  34. Faith says:

    Dr. Phil, I dread the thought of summer coming to an end and school starting again. My middle school aged daugther was bullied most of her seventh grade year by a group of girls. At the end of the school year last year, she was begging me not to have to go to school. This was a first for her, as she has always been a cooperative kid and never minded going to school. Most of the bullying seems to be about her weight, they have called her fat (which she isn’t) and teased her because she has cellulite (which she doesn’t). It has defleated her self-confidence. Like a lot of other people on this site have mentioned, she does not want me to say anything to the school officials or to the mom’s of these girls, because then she would get picked on even worse. As a mother, I would want to know if either of my children were being unkind to another child and if they were they would have consequences for their unkind behavior. I keep telling her this year will be better, and I pray that I am right. Schools need to have bullying programs, bullying needs to be addressed at orientations before school even starts, and there should be teachers and principals who are trained to know how to deal with bullying and who kids feel comfortable going to if they are being bullied. I don’t remember bullying being such a problem when I was in school, it seems that we are a meaner generation of people now, raising mean kids who seem to want to make other kid’s lives miserable.

  35. Officer #5 says:

    After reading all of the above, I felt compelled to write. First of all, for all of you, I know what you are going through and how painful it is. I am a mother of a 12 year old girl. She has been bullied at her school off an on for over a year. We live in a small affluent commuity that has it’s own school, grades K-8. If you are ever “branded” as anything other than the “cool group”, you are on your own. Currently, my daughter has been bullied by a girl in the “cool group”. Unfortunately, this bully is a daughter of my brother’s best friend, so the bully is often at family functions. The last incident was when the bully and her family were invited to a family campout. The bully brought a friend and, as expected, they were ridiculing, pointing at and laughing at my daughter. We had been dealing with this bully for 3 years at this point. We had spoken with her parents after one such bullying event and the mother allegedly talked to her about it. The bullying has never ceased. After I personally witnessed this latest incident (they did not know i was watching), I confronted both girls and told them to stop. The parents were on a boat ride at the time, or I would have include them in the confrontation. The bully gets away with this because she is very good at being the perfect angel, student, athlete, etc in front of adults. After the confrontation we left the campout because my daughter was physically ill again because of this bully. I am concerned now that as summer comes to an end and my daughter enters 7th grade (the bully is an 8th grader this year), that the bullying will worsen, and I pray that I have not made it worse for confronting them. Sounds curious that I am concerned about reprocussions, but I am. The “mama grizzly” was finally unleashed and I had had it. My husband and I have not spoken with the parents of the bully after the latest incident (they are very nice people and respected in the community), and don’t want to cause a permanent rift with them, as we have this year and next to go interacting with them. However, THEIR daughter is the problem, not mine. Please, anyone who can give me advice on what to do and when to and not to intervene, would be helpful. I am in law enforcement so my natural instinct is to protect. I am concerned that this bully and even her sister (who is in my daughter’s class and heard my confrontation) will begin turning others against my daughter, increase the jeering, laughing, isolation. I have thought about pulling her out of her school and seeking out maybe a private school (as other parents have done from this school because of bullying). I know that is not realistic. The school is not proactive about bullying, especially when the bully is a “star student”. Any advice would be very helpful.

  36. Lana says:

    Believe it or not, sometimes surviving bullying is not the preferable option. I don’t say this to be facetious–I say it as a now-44-year-old “survivor” (from a “blue ribbon school for excellence,” no less.)

    The word “bullying” makes the reprehensible act socially acceptable. Instead, let’s call it what it is–”abuse.”
    If adults committed these same acts, they could be jailed for anything from harassment to violent crimes. If it’s downright CRIMINAL for full grown adults, why is it acceptable and/or expected to expose unprepared, immature children to it?

    In a similar vein, we shouldn’t be surprised when some victims kill themselves, either. We should be outraged enough to work for REAL, societal change. That such abuse of children is accepted as “normal” in our society is a very clear sign of just how sick our society actually is.

    “Civilized?” Not on your life!

  37. My daughter was Bullied so much in Jr High for 2 yrs we had to take her out of school. She was depressed and developed Social Anxiety disorder. Five years later still full of hurt and anger, she wrote an email to the school, the next day she was arrested for terrorism. We turned to God, God did what therapist and Doctors couldn’t it helped her put the hurt and anger behind her and she forgave them. I am about to have a book published about our Journey, Bullying causes so much damage, not just while they are in school, but life long, Aimee still suffers with Self Esteem problems, but she is getting better, this happened when she was 13, she is now 22 and just starting to open up. Learning to Drive and she is going to attempt to go to college in the fall. Schools have zero tolerance for Drugs, and guns, why not bullying? Bullies should be forced to seek counseling something is going on at there home they forces them to attack others. The damage the do, to families is astronomical, it affected my health, my marriage, my life and my daughters whole life, she has to now develop social skills since she was alone and afraid of people for all those years. But I feel sorry for the bullies I don’t hate them. Even the teachers and counselors at the school that didn’t help her, they are just not trained and overloaded. Children are our future, but our government doesn’t treat them that way.
    Thanks for listening

  38. Sue says:

    I don’t know if anyone will ever unsdnetard bullying. I can’t lie and say I’ve never said mean things to anyone. I’ve gotten into my fair share of fights with friends in the past. But I never understood why kids make fun of the quiet kids that they don’t even know. I’ve been fortunate enough to make it through my life with very minimal bullying so far, despite the fact that I’m nerdy, odd, and not particularly pretty. The problem is that kids find a target and go with it because it makes them feel powerful, even though they’d be better people if they helped bullied kids instead. I’m sorry you went through that.It is funny, how the smallest decisions have such an impact on our lives. I’m the kind of person that believes everything happens for a reason, so I’m totally with you on this. I’m glad you decided to stay in school and were able to meet some good friends. For me, I know what it’s like to be with the same group of people, year in and year out. Sometimes it’s just hard to find good people in that group. I don’t have many friends in the current group I’m stuck with, but whenever I have to opportunity to branch out and meet new people, I always leave with a good number of new friends. Change is good.

  39. Alejandryta says:

    For years, I have been reading about aaaiemdcclly high-achieving AfricanAmerican students being accused of acting white by their AfricanAmerican classmates.I was born in 1936 in then totally-segregated Baltimore, and went to all-white public schools. Smart white kids were viewed with suspicion at best, and bullied at worst. It is not a racial issue.When we think about the anti-intellectual forces in play in this nation, since her founding, it follows that intellegence is held in contempt. Why is it held in such contempt? Think about it.

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