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March 31st, 2010 by Dr. Phil

Justice for Phoebe?

bully1'You may know that I’ve been on an intense crusade against teen bullying for the last several years. Right now, I am outraged! Bullying takes many forms. It happens with both boys and girls, on playgrounds and school buses, and now with cell phones and computers, there’s cyberbullying — omnipresent, electronic stalkers who can go after their targets day and night.

What’s happening before our very eyes is scary, and we are seeing sickeningly tragic results. Case in point, the recent heart-breaking and outrageous story of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince. Sadly, this is not an isolated story, as I have dealt with many heart-breaking stories of unchecked bullying many times over the last several years, some resulting in death.

If you’ve missed it, here is what has been reported in the national media: Phoebe moved to South Hadley, a quiet suburb in Massachusetts, with her family from Ireland. A freshman in high school, she had a brief relationship with a senior football player, which got her on the wrong side with a group of girls at the school, dubbed the “Mean Girls.” For three months, they went after her. They called her a slut. They confronted her in the hallways and pushed her around. One afternoon this past January, the girls drove past Phoebe as she was walking home. They shouted at her and threw an energy drink at her. “Phoebe kept walking, past the abuse, past the can, past the white picket fence, into her house,” wrote Kevin Cullen, a Boston Globe columnist. “Then she walked into a closet and hanged herself …You would think this would give the bullies who hounded Phoebe some pause. Instead, they went on Facebook and mocked her in death.”

Afterwards, there was the usual talk from some school administrators about how this bullying, sadly, happens in every school. The obligatory promises were made to hold more school assemblies to teach students about the dangers of bullying. Politicians made some vague statements about passing legislation to toughen anti-bullying laws. All good sentiments, albeit too late for Phoebe, and perhaps of some value if there is follow through.

But this past Monday, local District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel did something completely unexpected and unprecedented. She announced criminal indictments against nine teens who allegedly had bullied Phoebe — the charges ranging from criminal harassment and stalking to statutory rape. (Allegedly, at least a couple of boys who were indicted sexually assaulted Phoebe.)

Never before, say legal experts, has such a strong message been sent by a prosecutor about the consequences of teenage bullying. And though I have no idea if the charges will lead to criminal convictions in a court of law, I said, “It’s about time.” I hope that other prosecutors and police officers will take note of what happened to Phoebe. I also hope they think twice before dismissing bullying episodes in their own jurisdictions as nothing more than a case of “kids being kids.” The time has come to treat bullying as a public health issue — no different than teen smoking and drunk driving — and that means giving our teens a wake-up call.

But I do have one very big question for you: What do you think should happen to the parents of the kids accused of these crimes? Should they be given a free pass because they didn’t know what their children were up to? The police can’t monitor all bullying – especially cyber-bullying. But parents are right there to monitor what’s going on with their kids. So, should we hold parents of bullying and cyber-bullying kids more responsible? Is it crazy and reactionary to consider charging them criminally?

And what actions do you think should be taken against school officials who apparently knew what was going on? As I said on Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN on Tuesday night, “It’s always tragic when a kid takes life, but when it happens in a system that is supposed to protect children, it’s even more outrageous.” Phoebe’s parents say they spoke to at least a couple of faculty members and administrators. I’ll be curious to hear what the school has to say.

If you think I’m just going after the adults, let me make it clear that we’ve also got to teach our kids one major lesson. We have to teach them that if they stand by passively and watch someone being bullied, then they are just as guilty as those who did the bullying. We have to teach them that it is uncool to become a bully. And if that means arresting bullies and sending them off to prison, regardless of their age, then I’m all for it.

If a friend or loved one is talking about or planning to take his or her life, reach out for help now. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255) or go to DrPhil.com for more resources and suggestions).

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290 Responses to “Justice for Phoebe?”

  1. Lori says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    I’m watching your “Bullied to Death” episode right now, and all of the anti-educator comments made in the show compelled me to come here and comment.

    Bullies are not created in schools, they are created in homes. Parents must take responsibility for their children, and for their children’s behavior. I’ve taught kindergarten through graduate students in my tenure as an educator, and I have *never once* been surprised by a student’s behavior after meeting his parents. Let me repeat–I have never once been surprised by a student’s behavior after meeting his parents.

    Teachers are not the enemy, here. As long as we continue to vilify teachers and blame all of our social ills on the people who devote their careers, nay, their lives to educating this nation’s children, we will never make any progress. The teaching career has one of the highest rates of attrition, and I’m not surprised–so many well-meaning, excited young teachers enter the profession each year only to be faced with the harsh reality that we are neither respected nor liked by the majority of our students’ parents.

    My heart goes out to bullied children. It is a heartbreaking and persistent problem amongst children in this country, and the only way we can stop it is to get real and start expecting *parents* to raise their children to be decent human beings.

    Thank you for bringing bullying into the public consciousness. I hope that parents will stand up and accept responsibility for their children so we can start helping these poor, tormented children who face bullies every time they leave their home.

    Lori O.
    Illinois

  2. Darlene Nieuwendorp says:

    I already left a lengthy message on April 11 on the bullying situation. I am wondering, did I do something wrong since this just states my name and e-mail address and says to leave a reply, which I have already done.

  3. brandie alloway says:

    I cannot believe the actions of these kids who played a part in the death of pheobe Prince. They have no remorse or empathy for what has happened to this girl,nor do they think they should suffer the concequeces of their actions. This behavior scares me to death because i wonder what the parents of these kids have to say about all this and i wonder if they feel their kids were in the wrong or are they as heartless and cruel as their children? These kids should be ashamed of themselves and the parents should be ashamed as well!

  4. Juliet Peters says:

    Bullying is a massive problem and thank you so much for your work with this Dr Phil. There is always hope that a “cure” for bullying will be found when the world’s most famous psychologist takes up the issue. It isn’t talked about as much as you would think, considering if it was an epidemic of a flu virus it would be on the news daily.

    You see that’s what I think it is. An epidemic of an illness. That can be cured. That one day we can say it has been eradicated like Small Pox.

    I have followed my sister’s work who works with children expelled from schools in England for bullying. I have also worked on a voluntary capacity with two mentally ill people, both displaying bullying/control behaviour.

    When you see it as an illness, blame becomes blurry. Should parents be held responsible for their children who bully? A person who “bullies” is on the sociopathic spectrum, according to my pscyhology reading. They get pleasure from hurting others. Its a way of life, not a choice. Its a wiring of the brain that has developed over time through ill health. Caused by hereditary predisposition or abuse from parents or even, in my experience, food sensitivities. The person has not asked for the illness. You could say everyone’s a victim. A victim of poor genes, a mad world, a world full of subtle abuse. Their behaviour is a symptom of their illness. It does not define them. And that is an important step in the recovery process. When I got this, and the person I helped got this, it was a big milestone for us both. A symptom has little power when that is all it is. The nastiness takes on a weakness that becomes manageable. Like a nasty coughing attack. When the illness was in process, I just ignored it and said we’d come back to this when he felt a bit better and was over the need to abuse (the symptom of the illness. The lack of ability to take in what was coming at him and to reject it. Put up the brick wall).

    A child’s bullying is not all that different from many other mental disorders out there. Without empathy a person is very dangerous. So how do we stop it? Even if we acknowledge its no-one fault so what, what we all want is the solution. Parents are all out of ideas themselves, have no-where to turn to. In others they are bullies (or psychologists call them sociopaths) themselves. Abuse creates abusers. It creates the doubt in oneself. It creates a slow system of disconnection. Constant put downs are soul destroying, in fact phsycial that is true.

    Here’s my solution for what it is worth, based on my experience and knowledge: STEP 1: we need to have a plan for bullies, that is adopted by governments. Then track its successes and failures. The first step is to identify who is suffering the bullying illness. Then have a program of treatment for that child, away from the classroom. It will need to be funded by its worth it. A parent may be ill equipped to know how to deal with this. Just like a parent may not have any idea how to deal with any mental illness. How could they know? Even the experts are undecided. So my solution is take these precious kids out of the system and help them get their self-esteem back. Once that is achieved, that person has connected to their empathy and other emotions, he or she would not dream of hurting another soul. Remembering that that child’s soul is precious even if the behaviour is ugly. That child only got there because they were a victim once too. Learning that for me was powerful. It got the love in gear real fast.

    Although it is pointless to scold a child who is suffering a mental illness, who has no control over their behaviour, it is necessary to point out it is not acceptable. But in the same sentence it isn’t their fault. A bully is cruel but the cruelness ends there. The treatment cannot be itself cruel. We can’t make that poor child feel any worse about themselves then they already do at a very deep level.

    Bullies should feel safe to come forward and ask for help, before others get hurt. That they will be treated like any ill person. That the focus is on getting better, not about blame and punishment. Come forward while they still can. There is a window of opportunity when a child wants help. As the illness progresses, the child won’t want help and will fight for their way of life. Its harder then. Its like the electrical current becomes weaker and weaker. My studies in sociopathic illness is the same. There is a point at which someone may seek help, when they know something is wrong. But it isn’t for long. In a TV show by the English comedian Stephen Fry, his psychologist said there was a 12 year period where a sociopath progresses into psychopath. A psychopath is the bully. They need power. Mr Fry’s psychologists considered he was suffering psychopath illness because as a child he stood on the top of the school’s roof and enjoyed looking down on others. He liked to feel superior. Being higher is one way to achieve that. It was an interesting program. He admitted he had hurt a lot of people who had got close to him, especially family. But he didn’t want to be treated. He was happy with his way of life. I can’t find any different in the symptoms of psychopath compared to those of a bully. Dr Phil may help out there.

    STEP 2: From the school’s point of view they must educate children about how to detect a bully and why it is important to see the cracks in behavious. Ie a bully, like any sociopath, has a charming personality 99% of the time. But the 1% is the dagger that attacks the self esteem of the victim, and it can be subtle. That’s why they can do so much damage. If they were obvious monsters no-one would go near them. The damage is done because people do get close and like them. A bully will answer any complaint with “I didn’t mean anything, it was a joke. You just need a sense of humour”.

    STEP3: We need a specialist team at schools to deal with both the bully and the victim. Both need building up in self-esteem. Understanding what is going on is a hugely powerful. Putting them together in one school maybe OK. Maybe its good for the bully to see the lesson the victim needs to learn. Its isn’t so different: you didn’t deserve this. You were a victim to an illness, not a person. Its like being a victim to a box. It doesn’t hurt so much. It isn’t person. You didn’t invite this upon yourself.

    Having the bullies in at one school has its problems too of course, but it is still what I favour. Because the knowledge at that school would be sufficiently expert to solve those problems as they arise.

    If the child fails to heal at this early stage then the consequences are enormous for society. They are much more likely to become criminals, in a sense they already are. That person will have cruel relationships, be cruel to their neighbours, cruel to their children. The subtle abuse will be a part of their whole life. And anyone who comes anywhere near them will suffer. Worse will become an abuser themselves.

    Treatment should include the parents. In many case the “healing” will be aimed at the parents too. A parent who has no empathy is going to make the treatment of the child more difficult.

    Everything must be done from the position of love and wanting to help and heal. So the child and parents are getting a dose of a whole different approach to life. Bullies see the world as winners and losers. If I don’t win, someone else will. Get them before they get me. Conversations are wars that must be won.

    It took many years with two people I helped and it was successful. It’s hard when someone abuses you to go against your automatic (and right) response to not allow yourself to be abused. But it worked for me when I got it that I was dealing with a symptom not a person. It helped when the child also saw his behaviour as a symptom. Somehow the whole nastiness lost its power. And I could love that boy because of what I felt from his soul, not what I witnessed in his behaviour. And slowly, slowly, it worked. That you can love a soul, and hate the symptom of the behaviour. The illness not defining the child in any way.

    We don’t know the answers but that doesn’t mean we don’t try what we do know. We do know no-one ever asked to get sick. And when one has no ability to reason, to feel love, to feel empathy, they won’t be able to behave as if they do care. Who is to blame? We all are in a sense. We weren’t there to stop the abuse they suffered. Or tell them the food was doing them hard. Whatever the reason, we don’t know. Do we really think the modern world that we helped form, is all that good for encouraging the exercising of our emotional brain. Kids are the victims of us, what we allowed, what we accepted without thought to our responsibilities. What we didn’t stop. To some degree. We are all in that blame game when you really think about it. Its tough in a world where money is king to teach it isn’t. Where believing money is King is on the slippery slide to a destroyed soul.

    I am passionate about this because I have seen how things can change around. See a person blossom from the depths of mental health. And because I have real hope we will find a cure. I wouldn’t be so passionate if I felt this was all gloom and doom. We are a clever species when we are fit and well. Our forefathers have met the challenges of viral outbreaks. This is not so dissimilar.

    And I am optimistic most of all because with Dr Phil in on this, we have the best chance ever of finding that cure. Justice for Phoebe is for me this statement: Dear Phoebe, your spirit. I promise you I will do everything I can so no-one ever suffers the way you did. However little I can. But I won’t give up on the fight until my dieing day. And I mean that Phoebe.

    Juliet

  5. Timothy Waddell says:

    This is all so obvious. The moment a complaint is raised to the school it should be their job to investigate fully and bring in the offending students parents to involve them in ending the students misbehavior. If possible the students should be required to attend an anti-bullying class similar to what drunk or bad drivers have to do (i.e., detention with lesson plan). Records should be kept and cross-referenced with numerous interviews of witnesses to identify other victim and other witnesses to compile a comprehensive view of the bullying behaviors and methodologies.
    Where cyber-bullying is involved that should create an easier path to finding proof and adding punishment methods. The websites can identify the sources of the messages as can the phone companies and the offenders can be barred from using their services for periods of time if repeated complaints are made. If they try to access the services through their friends then the friends can face the same punishments and the word will quickly pass around to not let others mess with your phone or computer. The use of public services are also controllable since they generally require some form of identification system, like a library i.d., and thus the offending messages can more likely be traced back with similar consequences and methods. If a public site seems to become a source of such harassment and tracing the users is not possible or blocked then the public site itself can either block access to Twitter, etc. or Twitter,etc. itself can block the public site.
    If school officials refuse to take these or similar actions then parents should get together and sue the schools officials and the school districts for failure to protect their children.
    Ultimately, though, the primary responsible lies with the parents to teach their children to talk to them when they are victims, to talk to others when they see it and to speak out against it when they see it especially when someone else already is doing just that.

  6. Gail says:

    Bullying is a huge problem here too. My son has been bullied since kindergarten.
    I have a wonderful 13 yr old son. He first started getting bullied when he was in kindergarten. One boy use to call him names and would take my sons head and bash it on the wall. The bully also use to trip him and once pushed him off the top of the slide. My son fell face first at the bottom and needed stitches to close a cut just under his eye. The same child would pick on my son every day and every day I would go to the school and complain. One day I was called to the school because my son was pushed into the wall head first and was hurt. When I got there I got mad and said this has to stop. The supply teacher then said to me that it was a shame what was going on with my son BUT if he were like normal children he would not be picked on. You see. My son is adopted and was born 8 weeks early to a crack addict. We knew he was delayed but that did not mean he was not normal.
    The Bullying went one year after year. Kids always picking on him. Calling him names. In grade one he had a kid jump on him and bash his head into the ground. Gave him a concussion. Then a older child flipped my son down a hill at recess and broke his collar bone. Since starting school my son has been bullied to the point he has had 4 concussion, stitches, broken collar bone. One time he was in a newspaper here because he has a kidney tumor and we were fighting to get the Dr to remove it. One kid got mad over the attention my son was getting and pushed him down bashed his head into the pavement and stomped on the bad kidney side. Any time I would go to the principal all she would say was well boys will be boys.
    So here we are now. My son is in grade 6. He has adhd, OCD,pFAC and has the mentality of a 7 year old. He will never be able to live on his own or take care of himself. The doctors say its because of the cocaine and booze his birth mother drank when carrying him. He has brain damage and is classified as mentally challenged. I think allot had to do with the 4 concussions he got at school. He started to go downhill after he got the second one and has never been the same since the 4th concussion. He has a wonderful teacher this year he really watches out for him but when she is away he gets bullied too. The bully this year started rumors about him and one day he grabbed my sons backpack from behind while on his back and spun my son around then let him go. He smashed so hard into the lockers he could not walk and he was covered in bruses. Once again the bully gets a talking to and in school suspension. What a joke. Next year my son will go to a school where all in his class are like him and no one bullies anyone.

  7. Sue says:

    As an American living in Ireland I can tell you for a fact that bullying in school here and the UK is taken very serious. I have 3 children and bullying just is not tolerated. I’m not suggesting that it never happens but in a majority of cases if it is brought to the school’s attention they will address it. I went to school in America and seen where the kid who is being bullied just doesn’t stand a chance. If they try and defend themselves they open themselves up for more and to turn to teachers just isn’t an option. Mainly because they know they can’t or won’t help. I feel for Phoebe’s mother. She must have felt so confused as to why and how the school would not help. Ireland is a small country but they are light years ahead of America when it comes to defending their students from bullies. Also the fact, that the school went ahead with a school dance 2 days after Phoebe’s death speaks volumes about it and the people in charge. The same people who Phoebe’s mother sought reassurance from!
    The parents of these bullies also play a part in this sad story. For your children to reach the age of 15, 16 or 17 and think it’s ok to humiliate and intimidate another individual is a sign of failure on the parents part. Either that or these bullies are mentally challenged. Pick one folks! I have 3 children and I know I have a long way to go with them. But I hope by the time they reach 15 that I will have succeeded in instilling them to have respect for others, especially those considered weaker. The underdog is too easy a target.
    Rest in Peace Phoebe.

  8. Mary McEleney says:

    So sad, that girl deserved so much more from the people who should have been watching out for her. Every adult at her school who saw what was happening should be ashamed. The parents of these bullying kids should be ashamed, and these kids who pushed this girl to her death should be in jail. Nothing that happens in court can ever heal this girls family or bring their daughter back. It is all such a huge tragedy that could have been avoided so easily. I hope the parents win a huge civil suit against everyone involved but even that will never be enough. So sad.

  9. Christine Graves says:

    Here’s what Ontario is doing to stamp out bullying:

    “The Canadian Press

    As of today all school staff in Ontario are required to report serious student incidents such as bullying to the school principal.

    Principals, in turn, must contact parents of victims under terms of legislation that was announced last March and adopted last June.

    Reporting is now mandatory for all behaviour that would be grounds for suspension or expulsion, including bullying and swearing at a teacher.

    Threatening to seriously harm someone or a physical fight that requires medical attention are also covered by the mandatory reporting rule.

    Staff who fail to report serious incidents could face sanctions under the Ontario College of Teachers Act for failing to comply with the Education Act.

    The legislation was prompted in part by a 2008 study that suggested bullying and harassment can affect a student’s health, mental well-being and school success.”

    Source: http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100201/bullying_law_100201/20100201/?site_codename=Toronto

    You might also find this interesting – kids are speaking out against bullying and this is what one school in Toronto is doing about it:

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20100414/pink_day_100414/20100414

  10. Maria Santalesa says:

    It is very sad to see what is happening to our kids. I think it is a reflection of what kind of society we live in. The strong will always pick on the weak. My daughter was in the 6&7 grade got pick on by the “click” of girls. I tried to help but no one supported me. My duaghter was so traumatized that to this day she still remembers the pain and the hurt she endured. The children will try to attack others especially when they do not get the acceptance and love they deserve in their homes. They have to get the attention where they can. Punishment is not the answer but educating them how to get the approval and how to be a sensitive human being is the solution. The parents unfortunately have so many problems that they do not know what to do at times. Many parents are bully themselves and treat the children with no respect. It is a difficult problem but we should start by focusing on creating emotional/sensitive classrooms where children’s feelings are validated and dealt with rather than worrying about their academics. It is very important especially in the first few years of the children lives. If we would address their emotional issues we will have happier children who will do well in school in all the subjects. Children cant learn if they are stessed out and unhappy in their lives.

  11. Jane Place says:

    Dr. Phil,
    My son who is graduating high school this year is suffering. He has been hospital homebound due to extensive bullying. He was abused by a wrestling coach for months. Here’s the kicker the administration was very aware and allowed my son to continue going to this class. A phone call from a concerned county official informed me of the abuse.The abuse was also physical.He was attacked several times by a student and former students who entered the school. He had a used condom put in his mouth, his nose broken,and threatened if he should tell. The teacher told him if u tell on me. The school won’t care. They can’t find anybody to teach kids like you.

  12. Jane Place says:

    Dr. Phil,

    With bullying taking on a more serious issue for all children, I feel the term bully doesn’t fit most situations. Abuse is the term I use in my sons three years of high school. Despite his terror of going to school. Despite the fact that he had to hide all day at school. He continued to carry on with his goal of graduating with a full diploma.
    Florida has passed the bully law. A little too late for my son Tommy. I am Blessed to have my son. The affects this bullying has had on him are pretty obvious. He has not one friend. He has never hit back. He was made a walking target by the administration at his school. I struggle with the decision to not allow him to get physical. It resulted in daily abuse of him by so many.

    We attended a school board meeting the other night. My son wanted to speak up for other kids who he knows are getting bullied. He spoke of it being too late to help him but he felt the need to speak up as he had nothing to lose.

    He was so brave to continue to attend school. We moved to Florida after Katrina.
    Kids are resiliant. We were thankful to have evacuated. I rememeber the first day we went to his school. His counselor was so sweet so sympathetic. I informed her that he had been in a private school and this transition would be difficult. As a parent I suggested he visit the school meet the principal and get familarized with the campus. We had no records to bring to the school. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s at five. Didn’t happen. He has been a self advocator since kidergarten.

    He was so excited that first day. No uniforms ready to start a new life. Within weeks of school starting he was getting abused on the bus. He had a group of (bad popular kids) throwing things at him,holding him down putiing a used condom in his mouth. For a while he said nothing. I saw a dramatic change in my son. He was getting ill and getting angry at me. He would come home and go to his room for hours. It wasn’t until the same group had taken his books and pictures of his horse and distributed them at lunch. They took the pictures of his horse and told all the kids Tommy was having sex with the horse.

    He came to me and told me they took his books and feared he would get in trouble as all of his semesters work was gone. I told him not to worry and made an appointment right away to see his counselor. First he was told he had to do all of the work over or get zero’s. That night he came to my room and handed me a note. He was so ashamed and humiliated. What was in that note just floored me. What these kids were doing to him was appalling. I threw up before finishing the letter. The school decided to put him on the “short bus”. Nothing was done to these kids. The chain of events that followed were even more appaling. He continued to recieve threats such as they would kill him,they would harm me. They would harm his horse. No wonder why he wanted to sleep in the barn every night. No wonder why he would not let me go anywhere alone. Not even to pick up milk at the convience store.
    The abuse continued everyday. His nose was broken at the bus stop. He was an outcast. He was abused physically and verbally by a co-teach popular wrestling coach. He missed 55 days of school. He didn’t tell me what was going on with this coach. He got in trouble for blurting out the answer. He loved to learn and loved to participate. He had been told not to blurt answers out anymore. The very next day he blurted out the answer the coach threw his pen and hit him in the temple. The coach had signs he would pull out that read Today is NATIONAL TOMMY IS NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK DAY!! Quite a few signs another said TOMMY BOY DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO RAISE HIS HAND. TOMMY BOY CALL YOUR MOMMY. I insisted on viewing the signs.
    An advocate from the state worked hard for him and she was going to handle the situation and spare Tommy from more grief. When someone who works for the county called me and told me how she overheard what this coach was doing to my son. I called the advocate she said go get him. She would handle it. I called his sweet counselor and told her I was coming to pick him up. I asked her to not speak to him just let him know I was coming to sign hi out. Instead she got him and questioned him. He told her he had not been allowed to participate in the class and the coach had threatened to punish any kids who talked to him. He told her about the signs. He told her that the coach told him if he removed the signs he would be suspended for destroying school property. He also told him he would print more off his computer. I was there within minutes to find my son in a room with the resource officer. His life became a living hell after the mishandling of this situation. After a few days I sent him back. He came home and told me you cannot believe what it is like to be in school all day and get bullied. He said the couple friends he did make now ignoored him because it was his fault the wrestling coach was gone. The wrestling Coach was not gone. The administration hid him out in the office. I had to go to the office and fill out Tom’s resume for voc rehab. Tommy was home distraught and talking of suicide. As I sat waiting a gentlemen approached me bent down and his hand were face up motioning me to get up and fight. I was so involved with writing a thank you note to voc rehab for moving him up on the list. ( One of the many crumbs they would throw at us) I just ignored him and thought to myself maybe he has a disability or something. I didn’t realize who he was until I laid my head on the pillow at 2:00 a.m.. It hit me it was the wrestling coach I didn’t recognize him in a suit without his cap and whistle. I mentioned it the next day and was told I was mistaken. There was a camera in place. The next day he was gone. I figure he moved and is tormenting kids in another county.

    My relationship with my son was steadily deteriorating. So sad he shut down and I understood. I was telling him you can do this. I told him I would handle this. I told it would be ok. I told him to continue to stay in control and we continued with the false hope that he would be validated.

    The bullying continued with more physical bullying. More abuse and cover up by the staff. Last bully incident involved a student and a couple thugs who entered the school to “bully “Tommy. He was then put on hospital home bound.

    He had wonderful teachers who went above and beyond for him. They saved him. He still needs some help getting past this. They failed to protect my son. They broke the law. They broke him down and allowed him to be treated inhumanely.

    My son will walk across the stage and get his diploma. I know he will be anxious and on guard. Will he be protected during graduation rehearsal?? Will someone stick a knife in his side??

    As I sat in the school board meeting after being out of the loop for a year and a half I felt angry. The meeting was introducing a new superintendent. Also kids were there getting awards. I thought of what they had taken away from Tommy. Tommy would have received many awards. We were there to support a mom who’s young son was getting bullied on a regular basis. I was infromed that when he graduates his 1 hour week conseling will end. I am a single mom who depleted most of my savings hiring a lawyer to represent a brilliant son who came into the system ready to go places be somebody. The lasting affects of what Tommy went through are unknown. I only know he is no longer the boy who walked in that day with aspirations and dreams and came out broken and sad and now angry. He said mom I would have been validictorian, I could have played football. I had plans for prom. I feel the school board needs to step up and take reponsibility for this therapy. So graduation is also being ruined because they expect us to just go away. He deserves an award of courage and bravery. He wants to get an attorney again and sue for what they have done to him. Bullying is not taken seriously. Abuse is a better word.

    Meeting with new Superintendent today. After meeting the other night the local reporter came to me and asked if he could meet with me. Last time I wrote to the paper the threats were carried out. Our horse’s mane was cut and a bullet hole in a vehicle on our proerty. Police were called several times over the years. Nothing done. Just warned by police that we might want to consider dropping charges as retaliation would occur.

    Please parents stick together and be aware of how your bully incidents are handled. God Bless..

  13. Emily Stone says:

    Dr. Phil, I am at home watching your show on this matter and all i can do is cry. I am crying for MY CHILD. He is a sweet 6 year old boy who is in 1st grade and is being bulled. I don’t know what to do I have talked to the school and all they say is they will talk to the kid. I really don’t think they will do anything because the are closeing thier dorrs in June. What really bothers me is that my son is now crying every time he comes home and is so MAD at every little thing. The other day i heard him in his room saying that he wish he was never born!!!!!! I am sorry but i don’t think 6 year old boy talk that way? What can i do? Can you plz help me so i don’t lose my baby boy. I know he is 6 but listening to him talk when he thinks he is by himself really hurts my heart and all i want is to help him. I need someone on my side that will listen and help me and i really hope you can do that for me.

    Thank you,

    Emily Stone

  14. Monica Reeher says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I am EXTREMLY interested in your episode re: bullying and teen suicide. I luckily have not lost my daughter but she has been the victim of bullying and the school she was attending did nothing about it. I now believe that this has happened more than I really know about. When it first came to my attention my daughter was living in West Virginia with my parents. After listening to your program I now believe that it was also happening when she was home with us at her school here. I will be getting and reading the book by Barbara Colorso!! I hope that this episode will help people learn that this is an ongoing problem!! THANK YOU FOR GETTING THIS OUT THERE!!!

  15. Ms.Damiqua Savage says:

    Hello there Dr.phil,,I am to experiencing seeing my daughter being bullied not only by a kid in her school but being intimmedated by the kids mother who is a volunteer at the school my daughter attends.This has been a problem that has been lingering on for over 6 months now.My daughter has experienced verbal abuse,physical abuse and intimmedation. I have taken steps of protocal as far as contacting the principle of the school,switching her class,requesting a school transfer also. I have even made the superintendants assistant aware of this issue and i was promised as well as my daughter promised that this issue would be taken care of. I donot feel safe with my daughter in her school at all . My daughter has nightmares ,depressed , scared at times and get sick to her stomach when goes to lunch.And what makes it so bad is that the mother of the bully is at my daughters lunch everyday and intimmesdates her as well as the child who bullies her…Please Help with your Proffesion advice Dr.PHIL.a concerned parent…

  16. Serena says:

    Dr. Phil,
    I was watching the bully episode and sadly I don’t think things are going to change anytime soon. I have a child (12 yrs.) that was bullied/harassed almost everyday. It started in Elementary, the girl would always say things about her to other kids, give her little pushes and say it was an accident, well needless to say this continued onto middle school… I made a complaint about the girl in Elementary school and when it continued in Middle School, I again brought it to the schools attention, well needless to say, the Mother of the bully child found out I was going to the school to complain about her child, so the Mother then showed up the same day and time I did and immediately turned it around on my daughter, saying she was the one bulling her daughter. I was outraged and couldn’t believe the audacity of this Mother. Instead of teaching her daughter what she is doing is wrong, she’s sitting there lying and basically doesn’t care who she bullies. Like some say the Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and I believe that to be so true.
    Well anyways, when I told the school about this child, there 1st comment was, “OH, Sweet ” ” is bulling? That’s hard to believe. Then when this was brought up to the dean, Me, my daughter and the Other mother and child was there. Im the one that set the appointment to talk about this and here is the other Mother showing up from word of mouth I was going, so needless to say she speaks 1st saying my daughter has been bulling her daughter since Elementary, I immediately got upset and went off on her. I was shocked, that she had the nerve to turn this around on my daughter. Well, after my yelling from being so angry the dean started yelling saying he didn’t care about the Elementary episodes, “Which I thought was a terrible thing to say because this shows how long this has been going on” but then says, if this continues that both girls would be suspended. I thought ok, instead of punishing the one that’s doing wrong, lets punish both. I’m trying to make this right and here he is talking about suspending my child for someone else bulling. I think this a sad situation for these kids, especially when the school won’t do anything to help. My daughter even said to me after meeting with the dean, “Mom, I don’t feel like anything was accomplished, I feel like its going to be the same”… That just broke my heart! My daughter isn’t the only person having problems with this girl, it is many other children to.
    To me bullies are always going to be around it will never end, the only way we can save our children unfortunatlly is by pulling them out of the school and either home school them or try another school and hope this doesn’t happen again. If I have to I would pull my child out to protect her, someone has to protect are children.

  17. Christine Owen says:

    My daughter gets bullied. I will tell you our hardest problem is that these kids that bully are devient and they do the bullying in private where no one can catch them and they lie when their confronted about their behavior, we have not gotten very far in our case becasue the kids that bully stick up for each other and lie for each other and it makes my daughter look like she is the one being a pest. My daughter was even threatened by a written note and the school still has not been able to find out who it is. My daughter gets teased all the time being told that she has germs, and the kids dont want her near them, adn being called names. We have had a real struggle with this. I hope one day all kids can go to school and not worry about being teased, no matter what their walk of life is!

  18. Hannah Dugess says:

    this is so sad

  19. Lupe Vega says:

    Dr. Phil My 11 year old son just yesterday was beat on by 5 boys, They are all in 4th and 5th grade. My son has bruises and lumps on the outside but he is struggling to understand WHY? this happened to him. So those bruises are not as bad as the ones inside, and take longer to heal. He thought some were his friends and still tried to defend 1 of them to everyone including the police after I called them. The “back up driver” did nothing!!! The whole bus was out of controll, We are forced to trust our kids in the care of drivers that I would hope have somekind of background with kids but I guess it doesnt matter what matters is the budget. I will not be aloud to watch this video unless by court order subpena even though I have in the past been allowed to watch my children on bus video. You know just last year while in TEXAS my same son was MISTAKENLY taken to juvenile and NO ONE knew where he was for a while including the principal. He has gone through enough I think. I did not get to see todays full show about “FIGHTING FOR YOUR CHILD”

  20. Janice Leroux-Kelly says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    My heart goes out to Allyn. For girls to turn someone’s life upside down because of (in my opinion) jealousy is so immature. It certainly doesn’t make it any easier by hearing they are immature but they are.

    I totally agree with your comments on AC360. The only way to stop this kind of behavior is to turn the mentality in the schools around by making it “cool not to bully” or harass and instead be super cool to stick up for someone experiencing harassment.

    In the workplace you would be fired for harassment behavior. There are no consequences for bullies except to be made to sit in the office for the remainder of the day. No lines written out on what he/she has done NOTHING!

    I also have to say that 80% of these problems would be gone if the school board, government implements the strap come back into our schools. These measures certainly kept the good students like me on the straight and narrow and the trouble makers were given 3 warnings and then they were given the strap.
    It didn’t happen often because ALL students knew the RULES and the principal INFORCED THEM because they were BACKED UP by the school board.
    I think the way the school system is run today is PATHETIC to say the least. Also we need to bring a law into effect that the parents should also be held responsible if the bullying continues by fines. Hit them in the pocket book. Rules are rules and if we break them in traffic violations we get fined. Like traffic violations or drinking and driving, these things KILL people and we are seeing the same things happen to teens because of BULLYING.

    My daughter is starting grade 9 next year. She has experienced being bullied since grade 5. After taking her to the hospital with my husband, I took time off work to be with her because of a suicide plan she thankfully told me about in a melt down. Not only does she have the constant strain of bullying, she also struggles with ADD, NVLD and now depression

    The bullying is pretty much daily. I can’t imagine what she is going through when we have gotten no where with the Principal, Vice Principal, School board trustee and a lawyers letter to them all informing them that we require the police to give an anti-bullying assembly and that parents be called every time their child goes against the rules. Eventually, these parents will get sick and tired of hearing from the school and may discipline at home.

    On April 1st, the police did give an anti-bullying talk to all grades. Though the grape vine I was told by one of he students that it was really boring but they got the officer got there attention when they touched upon the suicide aspect of it. As of today, April 15th, our daughter continues to be bullied by having her jean top put in the garbage with food etc on it. The teacher took it out of the garbage. The school is investigating at this time as they have no idea who was behind it.

    Maybe if these bullies are made to where a sign all day that says “I was a bully today, ask me what I did” it would help. Or better yet after the third offence, parents are contacted and the students be made to do community work and not on school time. The PARENTS will have to take responsibility to get them to and from on there time.

    Like Allyn says enough is enough!

  21. ChristineP says:

    I can totally relate to the thoughts and feelings of Lori O. I am a K-12 school counselor and have been working in schools as well as mental/behavioral health as a therapist for years. When recently entering the public school system as a counselor for any where between 400-800 students, I have been astounded at what responsibilities lay on both teachers/counselors besides being accountable to federal/state and district wide mandates that require much more than 8 hours a day to attain.

    I would like to take the time to reiterate the words of another obviously “seasoned” educator who commented and support her words when she writes, ” Bullies are not created in schools, they are created in homes. Parents must take responsibility for their children, and for their children’s behavior. I’ve taught kindergarten through graduate students in my tenure as an educator, and I have *never once* been surprised by a student’s behavior after meeting his parents. Let me repeat–I have never once been surprised by a student’s behavior after meeting his–or her parents. (I would add that foundational values and beliefs…begin in the home, and that as educational professionals, we can only influence and try to change for the better, a child’s concept of right/wrong, appropriate and inappropriate responses and behavior(s).

    Teachers are not the enemy, here. As long as we continue to vilify teachers and blame all of our social ills on the people who devote their careers, nay, their lives to educating this nation’s children, we will never make any progress. The teaching career has one of the highest rates of attrition, and I’m not surprised–so many well-meaning, excited young teachers enter the profession each year only to be faced with the harsh reality that we are neither respected nor liked by the majority of our students’ parents.”

    MOREOVER, I see more and more of these new young teachers–leaving the profession, not to mention school guidance positions becoming eliminated in most districts. With funding rapidly decreasing to educate the children in our country, what then are we saying about our committment to not only the bullying issue, but the overal school and ultimately life success of our children.

    It seems to me, the priorities in our country is more geared toward paying millions of dollars a years to movie stars, those playing national sports, etc., rather than focusing on how we need to prioritize educating and supporting our children not only academically, but socially and emotionally.

  22. Michelle Savoy says:

    Dr.Phil,
    I am so outraged by bullying and I do feel like it is so overlooked in schools. I have been an educator for 16 years, and have noticed a rise in bullying in the past 5 years. At the school where I am now, I see it happening daily. I report it and I talk to the students myself, but nothing gets done. Our policy says that the principal has the final say based on information provided to her.
    I feel as if my school takes the stand that until someone is seriously hurt there is nothing they can do. I am sick about this. I think that if that’s the case bullying will continue and more kids will be hurt and take their own lives. I feel as if in order to keep my job I have to keep my mouth shut or turn a blind eye. This is extremely difficult for me because in my heart I know this is wrong.

  23. katherine bechtol says:

    Hey doctor phil, its a shame that she killed her self. all this could of been avoided if the school stepped up and took action. I am going threw the same crap right now, i have been harrased on my school bus for 4 years now and my x-bf cameron staggers started following me and harrasing me stopped for a bit then started again and then he stopped till today and i am sick of the school not doing anything, i have told the school this is their last chance to take care of these problems, if they don’t i told them that i would have a lawyer on the phone.Dr. phil what can i do about this crap?

  24. katherine bechtol says:

    mitchee, don’t ever turn a blind eye to this crap, i know how every student feels and you are right if the schools don’t take a stand against this crap people are gonna take there own lifes and my friend was rapped by cameron staggers because the school did not take care of it when i was getting harrased and he was going to do it to me, write a refueral call the parents do something just don’t turn a blind eye those kids need you, one day i’m going to be a lawyer and i’m going to fight back! i am already getting tom horn involved at my school of marana high i have 4 principles who turn a blind eye to everything that students do, untill someone starts a fight, help those students. speak out be the voice that they can’t be, our freedom of speech is limited, don’t sit down and shut up about it! I should know, i am a student who has gotten harrased and bullied at marana and nothings been done so i am taking action i am going to sue marana highschool.

  25. sarah says:

    Dr Phil … I live in Australia and it’s as bad here … I am sick of it and tired of it and can see it from both sides… my daughter is now in high school and is very popular, so therefore has no problems with socializing at school, gets invited to EVERYTHING and is never left out .. my son, still in primary school, gets bullied and humiliated everyday .. funny thing is the kids who are bullying him are overweight and have difficulties learning .. my son is a healthy weight, plays sport and is a nice looking boy (he and his sister are very similar in looks) and struggles in one or two subjects but doesn’t have learning problems … yet these children call him “fat” and a “dummy” ????? …. my question is how can two kids with the same parents raised the same way with the same standards, morals and values be treated so differently by their peers??? I was always being complimented on how well my children treat their peers and how protective my son was of a certain girl who was being harrassed .. then it all went pear shaped … he’s bullied for treating this girl with dignity and respect when the other boys wouldn’t … they call him a Poofter (Australian slang for homosexual) and a pansy (same thing) … seriously the UN needs to get ALL countries to agree to making bullies a CRIMINAL offence

  26. Kathemia says:

    My middle child has been bullied for years now. I have told everyone in the schools system several times. Nothing is being done. I think that the schools needs to have charges brought against them. Then maybe they will do something to protect these kids. My son has been kick, pushed, hit, slammed into lockers, followed from school and beat up, been called all sorts of names, and this is what I know. Drake stopped talking to me about this because I would call the schools and they would then call the other boys in the office and tell them Drake is saying you are bulling him. Then things would get worse for him. Last year we had a meeting with the school and a lot was said but the one thing that has replayed in my head was when the schools Police Offier said “What do you want us to do put your son in a bubble”. I told them no protect him. My son now is tried of the years of bullying and wanted to end his life. Thank God he didn’t and I have pulled him from school. Something needs to be done.

    To Lori not all bullies are created at home. It’s because kids don’t fill good about themselves for one and it’s because they have been bullied and now bully others. My oldest son has seen what Drake has had to deal with, and now he fights when anyone tries to mess with him. He says he will never be like Drake. And yes it’s the school fault due to there is policies in place to stop this and they don’t follow any of them. My oldest son went in last week and told them of issues Drake was having with these kids (these were the kids that came to My house and beat the shit out of him, and the school knew there was a no contact order against this kid) and they called Drake in and the other kids in the office and told Drake he needed a witness, it was his word against the others. They also keep this kid in the same class with Drake and said It was because their were no other Math classes for that child at that time. They didn’t change it till I yelled and screamed. This is why there is a major problem in the schools not because of the parents it’s because of the school.

    Chistine

  27. I have just watched the bully show..I am so proud of the parents who have tried so hard to protect their children..when my daughter was a freshman in high school, she began to date a senior and was one of 3 freshman girls who attended the junior/senior prom that year..in her sophmore year she continued to date her “older man” and was the target of jealousy from some other girls in her class..the day she came home from school with a note that had been left in her locker stating that she should watch her back and that she was going to be killed..well..pushed me over the edge..I contacted the assistant police chief and a teacher at the school asking for help..within 3 days we had the girls who had written the note. The principal was great..she took the note and ran with it..a week later I was in a room with the 3 girls, their parents, a ploice officer, the principal, and my daughter. We were asked if we wanted to press charges, we declined under the agreement that a very valuable lesson was learned and my daughter would be left alone. STAND UP PARENTS!!!!! One of your guests said “If you can’t trust me..who can you trust” AMEN!! The relationship did not last but my daughter knows that she can stand tall and prous all these years later!

  28. Debbie Griffis says:

    My granddaughter is being bullied and I am afraid something might happen to her. I need some answers on how to try to stop this bullying. They call her names all the time and try to fight her. They are always telling her that she looks like a man.
    All the school has done has been to put the girls in suspension. Once the girls get out of suspension they just come right back at her. The article on Pheobe Prince really got to me. It reminded me exactly about whats going on with my grandaughter and these girls at school. I feel like maybe some of their behavior has to do with their parents. There was one time one of the girl’s dad had yelled at my eldest grandaughter, because she tried to explain to him what they were doing to her sister. I don’t think these girls think about the kind of impact they make on her life.

  29. Bree75 says:

    I agree that parents need to take responsibility for their children’s actions but at the same time when kids are in school each day it is also the responsibility of those adults who are supposed to providing supervision or educating these students to intervene or seek help if they see these things happening (bullying). I have been in schools and seen on multiple occasions where students are allowed to exhibit these behaviors and teachers and other school staff blatantly ingore it or act as if its not there problem to address. The only way that this problem can ever be adequately addressed is if everyone stops trying to throw blame on just teachers and parents and work together to provide appropriate intervention, modeling, and structure for more appropriate ways to resolve conflict and treat other peers. I wish that Dr. Phil would feature the book Please Listen, by Carrie Vanlandingham. I think that this book more than any other fiction novel I have read touches on the issue of bully through the eyes of the bully. It is truly well written.

  30. Laura From California says:

    When I was in the second grade I went to the restroom one morning and I was pinned to the floor had my underpants stripped off and flushed down the toilet. When I was in the seventh grade I had a fellow student write obscenities in my yearbook. Yet any time I tried to stand up to the bullies I would be punished for “fighting.” Should I tell a teacher about the the bullies, they would lie and the teachers would believe the bullies. What they did to me was emotional rape.

    This was back in the 1970’s I can’t imagine what kids go through now. There was a case out here in California where a student was suspended from school for several days for calling a classmate a slut and posting it on facebook. The father of the girl in question sued the school district for violating his daughter’s “free speech.” As obscene it seems, they bully won her case.

    In another case i read about a boy who had been bullied wrote, “The only way to escape the bullying is to graduate, commit suicide or do a Colombine.” The kid made the mistake of leaving a copy of his statement in a printer. He didn’t threaten anyone or become violent, he just made a statement that is very, very true. Apparently bullies are not entitled to free speech, because under his school district’s zero tolerance policy he was arrested.

    If school districts had zero tolerance on bullying, they would not need zero tolerance for weapons. School districts and the ACLU care more about free speech than they care about the feelings of others. What happened to simple respect and courtesy?

    I a encouraged that the monsters who drove Phoebe Prince are going to be held accountable, but I think it’s naive to believe that it will make others to think before they bully others. The carnage at Columbine was perpetrated by two boys who were bullied and bullying goes merrily along. Out here in California Andy Williams killed two students as a result of bullying. I read that he feels great remorse for what he did, but I am sure that the students who bullied him so mercilessly are not losing any sleep over it.

  31. MarkVII says:

    I’d like to respond to Lori’s comment. While the parents are responsible for their children’s behavior, that doesn’t absolve the educators from providing a safe learning environment. To often, when bullying has a tragic ending, there’s a school administration that is aware of the bullying and fails to take action. As I noted in an earlier comment, we have honor students being suspended or expelled for silly things (butter knives, for example) in the name of “zero tolerance”, yet bullies get away scott-free.

    JMHO,
    Mark

  32. Carol McIntosh says:

    Dr. Phil,

    Michelle Savoy is correct that it’s basically up to school principals to decide what to do about bullying incidents, and that usually nothing is done if the incident isn’t “serious.” However, regardless of a principal’s opinion, I urge parents to INSIST on police involvement whenever any unwanted physical contact occurs.

    That is the route taken when my 16 year-old son Michael was punched in the face at school. He had been physically bullied for a few months prior to this, but said nothing to his Dad or me about it. When the bullying escalated to a face punch though, my son immediately informed me.

    Michael and I then met with the school’s principal. He discouraged us from involving the police, but we insisted upon it. Surprisingly, when the police officer arrived, he also tried to discourage us from making a complaint. He said the bullying might escalate as a result, and that Michael would have to give evidence in court, which was an unpleasant process. However, Michael insisted on assault charges.

    That was the best decision because the bullying ended immediately. In my view, it is important that parents become actively involved at school whenever their children are bullied, and that they insist on meaningful and effective outcomes.

  33. Taylor Knowles says:

    I feel for Phoebe Prince. I am 16 years old and I have been bullied and harrassed almost everyday by 4 girls for the past 4 years. I attend a school that is out of zone now to get away from those girls but they still call everyone to know what I am doing and still bully me. I am sick of bullies getting away with it. They need to suffer the consequences of their actions. Teachers in the school pass us in the hall watching a girl cuss me out, chasing me down, and shoving me but they say nothing.

    I want to have my voice heard and these bullies need to stop. It’s almost as if the adults are scared to confront the issue. The parents SHOULD be responsible for children under 18 and what they put out onto the internet. It affects EVERYONE’S lives not only the victim, but the family, too. If the parents aren’t responsible and keeping their child into check then who is?

  34. A sad Mom says:

    If your child is being bullied, please take my advice. I am a mother of a child that was bullied for years in grade school. It has ruined his life.

    1. An attorney told me the following: Keep a written log of every bullying incident that occurs. Also take pictures of any marks on your child’s body that were put there by the bullying. A pending lawsuit will wake the bullies’ parents and the school district up.

    2. Call the police every single time your child is bullied. Even if it is not physical bullying (hitting, etc), it is still considered harassment. If the bullying is physical too, the bullies can be charged with assault and battery along with harassment. Their parents can also face charges. The above mentioned written log and pictures you need to show to the police as well.

    Unfortunately sometimes the bullies never stop. They “grow up” to be bigger more idiotic adult bullies that breed more idiotic bully children. Look at the girls in the Phoebe Prince story – they went on to make a facebook page mocking the poor girl after they drove her to suicide. What a horrible horrible world this has become. Protect your children. No one else will. It’s way past time to have new laws regarding bullying.

  35. PattheLifetellerPoet says:

    I want you to know that there is another case in NC. at the Ahern Middle school. And 8th grader has commited suicide and the parents are saying the bullying, and teasing is not what pushed their daughter into killing herself. I say what,Todays kids are different, no prayer in school, no moment to think about what Uv done. I say those moments with the flag and prayer help me reflect on me and reminded me to care for others. If they dont have that conscience to reflect in the mornings, if we dont demand they pray B4 each meal, give them those second that could change their lives. this is what we get animals! that dont care about others. These parents need to press charges. because if they dont and those kids who drove this 8th grader to suicide will think they got away with something. We need laws that protect our kids from other kids. I was teased when I was a kids, almost raped, because I had no hair, I was big, and thin kids get a fix out of hurting over wieght kids.

  36. Thomas A. says:

    Lori O- regarding your comments in defense of teachers. I too am a teacher and a parent, most likely with considerably less tenure than yourself. I could not disagree with your comments more! I agree, teachers are underpaid and under-respected, however, while I watched the show I did not feel it was an indictment of “good” teachers and administrators, rather those that stood idly by and did NOTHING while students were relentlessly harassed beyond normal teen standards! It’s true, many students, maybe even most, are a reflection of their parents. But you should also know that by the age of 12 or 13, parents are not the most influential people in most kids lives any longer, their peers are!

    It’s exactly that defensive form of old-school, tenured teacher mentality that plagues schools today. Parents and teachers alike share the responsibility of adult role model for students. When students spend the vast majority of their learning time in school by the age of 6, how can you possibly expect parents to be the only role model in a child’s life? With all of your “vast” experience you must be aware that most adolescents don’t share a great deal of insightful, personal information about their lives with parents. Teachers have a much more honest look into the lives of teens simply due to exposure!

    Professional standards are increasing for teachers, hopefully this leads to a higher standard of teacher. I truly hope by the time I have your tenure I have not become as cynical, complacent, and bitter as you have.

  37. Sara says:

    Send those Bullies to Belgium for a few weeks, let’s see if they still have a big mouth :-) I doubt it very much

  38. Nicole Dedivitiis says:

    Dr Phil: As an American girl who spent 2 years in European high schools (one in France and one in Ireland), I must comment that the social dominance dynamic that thrives in American schools minimally exists abroad in comparison. Isn’t this social dominance or bullying rather an undesirable primal urge which must be seriously curbed (”zero tolerance”), and not a result of previous victimization as is often cited. “Popularity” is really about social confidence and dominance, not friendliness and admiration.

    I am thrilled that prosecutors have levied civil rights charges against the perps. It’s about time, I’ve always thought this should be treated as a criminal, not just a civil matter, even though rights violation is the charge.

    I suspect 2 obvious criteria minimizing this abroad anyway are segregating schools by gender (the witnessing of humiliation by the opposite gender during pubertal development is so devastating) and that education beyond the age of 14 is a conditional privilege abroad and permanent expulsion occurs for far less notable reasons such as tardiness, absenteeism, class disruption, lack of effort, incompletion of assignments or failing grades. Bullying behaviour would be a far more egregious reason for expulsion and perhaps why I never really witnessed it abroad.

    Why do you suppose this bullying behaviour continues to escalate here in US? I do know that this dynamic plays a far greater role in our high drop out rates and “home schooling” than academic boredom.

    Hello?? Why has no one made this a greater cause? Bravo Elizabeth Scheibel. I am 110% behind you. I remain unsure of what to do about school administrators. I am thinking parents and schools should be reporting these claims to the police. After all, teenage and young adult offenders of all types are presumably already their largest focus.

  39. Jackie says:

    Those who bully in school grow up to bully in the work place.

  40. My husband and I just watched the show on bulling (April 22). We are a retired 20 yr military family and raised 3 children who went to many different schools with students from all walks of life. What would solve the problems like this family has would be student uniforms – all dress alike and make their own marks in school and life by their actions and abilities.

  41. Shana van der Zweep says:

    Dear Dr. Phil!

    First of all I want to say that I love your shows!
    I’m from Holland so the shows are delayed here..
    Today was the show about bullying with all the girls. When I was in school I got bullied alot. I was alot taller then the girls in my class and I had a bunch of hair! It started when I was 6 till the age of 16. I had alot of problems and I often didn’t want to go to school. I also cut myself with razor blades. Mostly on my upperarms. I went to a psycologist when i was 19. For almost 9 months I went there weekly. That really helped. Now i’m almost 23 And I work als a nanny. I totally love working with kids And I tell them alot of times that bullying is really not good.. And that you can really hurt people by doing so.
    Thank you for all your GREAT shows!! Keep on helping people Like you do so good!

    Love Shana van der Zweep from The Netherlands

  42. Kerrie says:

    Dear Dr.Phil,
    After watching your show today and seeing how the school officials acted made me sick! I am 22 year old white female who moved to a community of the same culture. The school was very small and moving in high school it was hard. The point I’m trying to make is that I had so many problems with the teachers and school officials in school I was pulled out of school my senior year and was home schooled. I believe that the treatment that young man received for a fight was absolutely appalling! There is no doubt in my mind that that school just as my school did pushed everything under the rug and let the dirt get higher instead of just taking care of it right the first time. I really think that young man should be able to finish high school and that the school systems need to be put back in check! Thank you so much for your time! Hang in there P! You will make something of yourself just think of this as another reason to succed and be better than the rest!
    Thanks,
    Kerrie

  43. Wendy Ison says:

    Just got through watching about the Family of the young man sentenced to 120 days and expelled from school. I AM FURIOUS – you can tell by looking this family is NOT VILOENT and are a nice family, but unfortunately singled out. I DO NOT BELIEVE for one minute the school officials are telling the truth. One could read them just as the victims were read!! I also believe the young people were telling the TRUTH. I guarantee everything happened as they say and the “others” received a slap on the wrist. I raised two boys and I KNOW how BULLIES are. It’s a shame and I truly hope this family moves to a community where they are treated fair before something tragic really happens!!!

  44. Wendy Ison says:

    My heart goes out to Muyassar and her family. I truly hope they move from this community. I am ashamed right now to be an American Citizen. I DO NOT BELIEVE Jerry Smith for one minute!!! and I BELIEVE EVERYTHING this family is saying.

  45. Christy says:

    It doesn’t matter if you tell the school or not,my daughter 10 has been bullied for the last two years and nothing is ever done about it.A child had a knife at school also 10 and told a boy she was going to kill him and guess what she was back at school the next day,so nothing you say to our school really matters!

  46. Patti Bell says:

    I too was bullied when younger, I am now 55. The bullying was done face to face back then. Even though some of the bullying is still done that way, most is done electronically today. It is harder to stop that kind of abuse because you don’t really know who it is.
    My granddaughter is being bullied at out local school. She is harrassed on a daily basis, pushed, shoved, called names, and has things stolen out of her backpack. When my son-in-law went to the school official to report this, the principal said he would look into it and get back with us. After more than a week, and no word, we went back to the school. The principal stated the young man that had stolen the items confessed, but nothing could be done because there were no eye witnesses to the crime. Could it be there was no punishment because this young man was a star basketball player and finals were the following week?
    Parents, I am using an old ad quote, “Do you know where your children are?” Let’s expand on that, do you know what, who, and why your children are doing? Ask questions, invade their privacy; yes they will get mad, but isn’t a mad child better than a dead one?
    We have started a group on Facebook called
    “Greater Consequences for Bullying in our School Systems”. This is an open group, for anyone who wants to stop the bullying. You can post a comment, sound off, or just talk about what is bothering you. We are just parents, grandparents, families, friends, school teachers and others who want the madness to end. If you join, please let us know that you read about us on the Dr. Phil blog. I would like to thank Dr. Phil for allowing me to sound off. Patti Bell

  47. Mary says:

    There is so much more bullying now day then when my children were in school. Acting I remember once when I was inthe 4th grade about 65 years ago, that 2 girls stop me and mired lipstick on my face. They were coming from the jr. high school. I ran home and washed it off and that was the end of it. But now days they attack in packs. They are too weak to attack on their own. Yes it needs to be reported to the school and yes the school needs to take care of it. The principals and councelors have a big job to do, but as long as there are group attack. But OUR copuntry is open to all people who want to live here as long as they don’t break laws and attack people. Our country was estabish by people who wanted freedom from attacks. My family have lived in this country since the 1800 and I am sure they would take care of these Hoodlums. This family needs school support.

  48. Mary Smith says:

    There is a HUGE need for something to be done about bullying in the school systems. I applaude you for your attempt and pray that you can somehow make the changes that need to be made ASAP. One thing I would suggest is that prayer be returned to schools. Our children need GOD in their schools and in their lives. I also agree that strong punishments and fines for the bullies and parents of bullies should be made immediately. Thank you for your help Dr. Phil. I pray that you can get something done for our children.

  49. i am an educator/filmmaker and author. i too am appalled by the bullying that is continuing with our young people. i wrote GIRAFFE JUICE a book on compassionate communication for young people to deal with bulllying – i am thrilled that it is helping teens ( got testimonials) also wrote/directed/produced SWEETWATER a film aired on pbs, endorsed by kids first the coalition for quality children’s media – sweetwaterfilm.com is my site…thank you for letting your viewers know of these resources. blessings and thanks for doing what you do.

  50. Anne Claire says:

    Looking back (I’m 50 now) the time I was bullied seems a life time ago… The thing that still irks me is that on several occasions the teachers joined in the bullying. It made me feel soooo stupid! Then one thing led to the next – I hardly dared opening my mouth, and if I had to my face would turn all shades of red. The word shy doesn’t even come close to describe me at that age.
    It took me some 30 years to really shake the effects of being bullied.

    Nowadays I often wonder whether the seeming increase in bullying also has to do with an attitude that says ‘anything goes’. And maybe this is different in the Netherlands where I live. Yet I often wonder why so many people feel it is normal to be talked back to, to not be friendly or kind to others. Why parents and children alike seem to feel that anything can be said at any time, at any place. From my perspective it brings about situations that are not only inappropriate, but also awkward.
    On the other hand it seems to me that this also brings about a sense that ‘it is not my responsibility’. And not taking responsibility brings me back to bullying…

    If bully’s, their parents, and their teachers (but also their bosses, employers – you get the picture) do not take responsibility for what is happening to the person being bullied – it still seems to be a losing battle.
    Taking responsibility for our own behavior; and not just when we are talking bullies; seems necessary, yet hard to be found in this day and age. Making bullies and bullying a far more widespread problem…

    But maybe that’s just me.

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