DEAR ABBY: I am writing about the letters you have printed about bullying. If an adult attacks an adult, the victim can call the police. If an adult attacks a child, the child can call the police. But if a child attacks or bullies another child, no adult will step in. The adults stand back and say things like, "They'll work it out," or, "It's part of growing up," or, "The bully must come from a broken home."
All violence is wrong. Kids will NOT work it out. Talking to bullies doesn't deter them any more than talking to fish stops them from swimming. Child psychologists need to remember that bullies do it because they enjoy it. Bullies bully because society allows them to. -- VETERAN OF THE SCHOOLYARD WARS
DEAR VETERAN: I agree that bullying must not be tolerated and must be dealt with on a proactive basis. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I have zero tolerance for bullying. As a mother, foster mother and grandmother, when it happened in my family, a call to the principal describing the problem and insisting on a meeting with the bully's parents usually ended the problem. I always explained, both to the principal and the parent, that if the problem wasn't taken care of, I would press civil charges, and I meant it. If my child was causing the problem, I would see that it stopped.
Only once this didn't work -- when the bully's father was a policeman. On the second interview, I suggested to him, in my sweetest voice, that he was seriously damaging the chief of police's public relations program. That was the end of the problem. -- CAROL IN PASCO, WASH.
DEAR CAROL: Good for you. Making sure the school principal is aware of the problem is a must. Also, taking the time to document each incident is helpful should legal action be necessary. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I grew up in one of the most affluent cities in the country. My high school was one of the top 15. While I was bright academically, I was a loner. I was teased, taunted and physically bullied. Had I been wired just a little differently, I could have caused a bloodbath at my high school.
Instead, I turned all my anger inward and became bulimic and suicidal. My parents and the 12-step program of Overeaters Anonymous saved my life at age 16. I was lucky to find in O.A. a place filled with unconditional acceptance.
During those years, my high school saw two suicides and several suicide attempts, all from bright but alienated students. While teachers and administrators offered counseling about the suicides, they never addressed the core issues of bullying, teasing and labeling. Those suicides, like the homicides of the past several years, could have been prevented if people in authority had taken a stand for the health and well-being of the entire student body.
Since high school, I have become a much happier person. I have traveled in 30 countries, met and spoken with world leaders, enjoyed financial prosperity, friendship and love.
Please let your readers know that the various 12-step programs can be lifesaving resources not only for adults, but also for young people. They offer acceptance to alcoholics, drug users, obese teens, bulimics, anorexics, and even those with emotional difficulties but no substance addiction. -- FORMER OUTCAST
DEAR FORMER OUTCAST: Your letter illustrates that while the teen years may feel like a life sentence for some, there really is an end in sight -- a bright new beginning filled with hope. I'm pleased to spread your message. Twelve-step programs can be an excellent resource for teens and cost nothing to join.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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