DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Hurt in Ohio" (Dec. 8), the 13-year-old girl who is being bullied, was deeply affecting. I have been a middle-school teacher for 10 years. I have seen what bullying can do to kids.
I'm proud that "Hurt" told her parents, but because that hasn't helped her, please tell her to find an adult at school whom she trusts and tell that adult what is happening. If she hasn't gotten a response within 24 hours, she should go to another adult, and another and another until someone listens.
And please, Abby, remind parents that ignoring the problem does not make it go away; it only makes it worse. Middle-school kids are especially vulnerable to bullying, and it must be stopped. -- MIDDLE-SCHOOL TEACHER IN INDIANA
DEAR MIDDLE-SCHOOL TEACHER: I advised "Hurt" to have her parents accompany her to discuss the situation with her counselor and the principal. However, it has been pointed out to me that being the victim of bullying sometimes happens to multiple generations in families in which the parents are extremely passive and tolerated it, and are unable to teach their children to be assertive.
Fortunately, more help is available for victims of bullying -- and my readers, in addition to sharing their personal experiences, generously offered resources to combat it. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Please tell your readers that our federal government is concerned about bullying, because bullying increases school absenteeism and drop-out rates and can cause significant, long-lasting difficulties for victims.
As part of its anti-bullying campaign, the Health Resource Services Administration has an informative and user-friendly Web site: www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov. This site has sections for parents, school professionals and students.
Bullying is a national problem. We must work together to end this preventable injury. -- PEDIATRIC CHAPLAIN, ARLINGTON, TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: Allow me to suggest to "Hurt in Ohio," or anyone who is concerned about bullying in our schools, a Web site called www.safeschools.com. -- ANN IN FARMINGTON, N.M.
DEAR ABBY: "Hurt," who wrote about being bullied, as well as her parents, should explore the materials on the Southern Poverty Law Center's Tolerance Web site, www.tolerance.org, and direct the staff at her school there as well. A search on "bullying booklet" will provide hundreds of references for use. The materials are free to educators and are in use in thousands of schools. Every school and every person being bullied would benefit from SPLC's products. After all, bullying and ostracism have figured in school shootings and in many student suicides.
There is also excellent anti-bias material that has been used with great success in schools with problems similar to the recent one in Jena, La., heading off sad incidents like theirs. -- S.T.M., VERO BEACH, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: "Hurt in Ohio" mentioned that her friends won't stand up for her because they "like" the jocks who are tormenting her. Well, someone should inform her that those kids are not her "friends." On the contrary, they are enablers. Bullies love an audience, and silence indicates approval.
The answer is to teach students that not only schools, but they themselves should have zero tolerance for abusers. -- HENRY IN LITHICUM, MD.