POSTS WITH TAG: bullies

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    Once your little one has reached school-age, it officially means that you're no longer there to supervise every interaction with classmates or can chaperone them at each point in the day. That's a nightmare in its own way. And if you agonize over schoolyard bullies, it's about to get even worse. Because news flash, parents, the jerk on the playground isn't the only one you need to be worried about. Turns out, bullying, especially of overweight children, starts before kids even begin school.

    According to a new study, published in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, the idea that bullying is a school-age experience has been completely busted. In fact, in a sample of 1,327 children, where the average age was 6, the study authors discovered that obesity not only made a child more likely to be bullied, but also to be a bully themselves.

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    If there's one thing that makes me the most nervous about raising a teenager, it's the fact that other kids can be super cruel. I want to weep just thinking about anyone breaking my child's spirit. I know, I know, toughen up, mom.

    I need to take lessons from a 16-year-old boy named Brandon Bowen, who has found fame on Vine for all the right reasons -- and how many times can you say that happens? Brandon, who is from Georgia and describes himself as a "professional fatty," got a pretty funny idea from a member of his church about how he could block out anyone foolish enough to "hate" on him. He calls his Vines "Blockin Out the Haters," and his is a silly, adorable, and inspirational idea that all teens should watch.

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    I write this post knowing full well I'm going to take a lot of heat for it. That plenty of more forgiving folks are going to remind me that a child of 14 or 15 doesn't think about the consequences of his actions. That, in this technologically advanced age, it's impossible to predict how far a viral video will travel. That kids will be kids and kids will always make fun of other kids and parents need to just deal with it and teach their children to toughen up.

    But those excuses are the reason why we continue to hear heartbreaking stories like this one. They are the reason why a 14-year-old boy named Matthew Burdette chose to kill himself rather than deal with the humiliation of being a laughing stock -- not just at his school, but at schools all over California -- after an embarrassing video of him that another classmate filmed in secret spread like wildfire.

    There's one person to blame for this, and teen or not, he deserves to be punished to the full extent the law allows.

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    It's something parents all over the world have dreamed of doing, and it's landed a father of an autistic child behind bars. Cops in northern California say Burnis Hurd, 44, boarded a school bus and beat up an 11-year-old child. Cruel? Yes, but this wasn't just any 11-year-old.

    The kid this dad is accused of attacking just so happens to be the child accused of bullying Hurd's 9-year-old autistic son. See what we mean about "something parents dream about doing"?

    Sadly, this is where dreams meet reality.

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    Bullying can take many forms. It can be physical, mental, social, or it can even be carried out virtually through cyberbullying. And with more than 70 percent of young people experiencing bullying in schools, it's also a widespread issue. 

    But as common as it is, it's not often easy to spot. Chances are, your child won't come home one day and confess to the bullying. Most likely, you'll have to do some sleuthing and really pay attention to their patterns and changes to take notice.

    "Kids are amazing at masking how miserable they are," says Rosalind Wiseman, author of Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope With School Yard Power. "But there are some tell-tale signs that parents can notice if their child might be being bullied."

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    Alyssa Funke took her life at 19 years old. What drove this young, vibrant woman to do something so terrible to herself? She was being mercilessly taunted and bullied by former classmates after she starred in an amateur porn movie. The things they said to this poor teen, it seems, drove her over the edge.

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    Your child's teacher tells you your kid has been bullying other students in class. Your first reaction: "My child couldn't have possibly done that!"

    None of us wants to believe that our child could be the bully. But, in reality, even nice kids can engage in some not-nice behavior. Keep it in perspective: "This is not a lifetime sentence or a label," says Rosalind Wiseman, author of Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope With School Yard Power. "This is just a moment in time."

    And it's a moment in time that, with help from you and with conversations with your child, can pass. We talked to experts to understand exactly what parents should do when they find out their child is the bully, and here's what they had to say:

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    A 7-year-old boy was removed from his elementary school after he allegedly groped an 8-year-old female classmate on two separate occasions. According to Kimberly Weiss, the victim's mother, the first time her daughter was groped, the boy was suspended for a day and then allowed back in the same classroom as her daughter. But the second time her daughter was assaulted, she says the principal gave her two choices: The boy could either be transferred to a different classroom, or her daughter could switch schools. Yes, she was told her daughter could switch schools after being groped. And adding insult to injury, Weiss said the principal asked her why her daughter didn't "punch the boy in the face" after the incident. 

    The district eventually stepped in and the boy was removed from school, but not before Kimberly sent out fliers to each and every parent in the class, explaining the situation and warning them that their children could be at risk, also.

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    If anyone knows what it's like to be bullied, it's Lizzie Velasquez. The now 25-year-old was born with a medical condition so rare that it doesn't even have a name. Regardless of what Lizzie does, she can't gain weight. Despite snacking on Twinkies in the middle of the night, Lizzie has zero percent body fat, and weighs just 60 pounds. She's been on the receiving end of stares and nasty comments since she was in kindergarten, but nothing could prepare her for the YouTube video she eventually stumbled upon.

    When Lizzie was 17, she came across a video of herself on the Internet that branded her "The Ugliest Woman in the World." The hateful comments that accompanied the 8-second clip ranged from calling her "a monster" to telling her to "do the world a favor, put a gun to her head, and kill herself." The discovery, needless to say, crushed her.

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    Romeo Clarke is like many 5-year-old boys in that he just wants to do what his older siblings are doing. Thing is, though, his older siblings are wearing dresses -- pink sparkly dresses to be exact. So, for this adorable little boy in England, dresses and play high heels it is. Naturally, though, the whole little-boy-in-a-dress thing isn't sitting well with everyone. In fact, Romeo was actually banned from his church-run playgroup for "upsetting and confusing" the other children with his penchant for traditionally girly clothes.

    Romeo's mother, Georgina, was understandably furious and has filed a complaint against the playgroup. "All I could ask was 'why?,'" she said. You see, to her, Romeo isn't weird or strange at all. He's just her son. "This is not a case of him being trapped in a girl’s body. He has three big sisters, he likes wearing dresses. What’s wrong with that?'"

    Yeah. What is wrong with that?

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