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Mental Health Woes Plague 'Cyberbullies' and Their Victims
Date:7/6/2010

rd Gallagher, director of the Parenting Institute at the NYU Child Study Center in New York City, believes that schools, parents and children can all play a role in dealing with cyberbullying.

"Some schools are very concerned about this," he said. "And if they find out about it some schools are taking proactive action and there are consequences for the bully." But other schools aren't taking as active a role, Gallagher noted. "The proactive approach does seem to be helping with reducing the impact of bullying and teasing," he said. "So, I do think it is appropriate for schools to do this, but to be careful how they do it."

"In addition, most effective anti-bullying programs are ones that suggest that bystanders should be involved as well," Gallagher said. In these cases other children or parents who know someone is being bullied should report it to the school, he explained.

Another expert, Dr. Thomas Paul Tarshis, director of the Bay Area Children's Association in Cupertino, Calif., said the problem of cyberbullying is a growing one.

"The main place cyberbullying and cybervictimization begins from is the school," he said. "So it is in the school-peer relations where kids are likely to put pressure on someone, to taunt someone through instant messaging or Facebook."

Ideally, all schools should implement strict anti-bullying policies, but many are overwhelmed, he said. "Schools aren't even doing enough with standard bullying," he noted.

One positive of cyberbullying is that it leaves a data trial, Tarshis said. "So it's easier to get evidence of cyberbullying and it makes discipline and follow-through better."

More information

For more information on cyberbullying, visit the National Crime Prevention Council.

SOURCES: Matthew Davis, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, internal medicine and public policy, University of M
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