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Getting Tough on Bullying
Date:11/21/2008

Kids, parents and schools need to work together to stop abusive behavior, experts say

FRIDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Behavior that was once dismissed as "kids being kids" is now recognized as bullying.

And as mounting research shows the negative effects on both the bully and the victim, mental-health professionals, schools, parents and even kids themselves are coming up with new ways to combat this threatening behavior.

"Bullying shouldn't be considered a normal part of growing up. Adults need to take it seriously and try to understand why kids are involved on either end of bullying," said Richard Gallagher, director of the Parenting Institute at the New York University Child Study Center.

"Any form of verbal or physical behavior that is controlling or threatening is bullying," he said.

According to the federal government's Stop Bullying Now Web site, bullying includes:

  • Any act that physically hurts someone, such as punching, kicking or shoving.
  • Excluding people from a group.
  • Teasing people or spreading bad rumors about them.
  • Using someone's computer user name and posting lies or rumors.
  • Sending hurtful instant messages, e-mails or text messages.
  • Posting mean pictures, lies or rumors about someone on a Web site, such as Facebook or MySpace.

One of the biggest problems that adults encounter with bullying is silence. It's difficult to get accurate estimates of how pervasive the problem is, because children just often don't report it, usually because of fear.

To get a better idea of the extent of bullying, Dr. Thomas Tarshis, president and medical director of the Bay Area Children's Association in Cupertino, Calif., and his colleague, Dr. Lynne Huffman, designed a 22-question survey that kids could take quickly and confidentially. Gallagher said the survey "would likely lead to bett
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