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Bullying affects one-third of Oklahoma kids

BY VALLERY BROWN Published: October 8, 2008
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Nearly one in three elementary and middle school students in Oklahoma are either a bully, a bullying victim, or both, the state Health Department reports.

About 8,000 third-, fifth-, and seventh-grade students from 85 districts took part in a 2005 survey that explored students’ perceptions of bullying. The report also outlines the best practices for prevention.

"The children were very specific about what they wanted and how this needed to be addressed,” said Kathy Middleton, program coordinator for injury prevention at the state Health Department. "Those who have been targeted have made it very clear about what they need in terms of help.”

Children asked for better adult supervision and want teachers to make and enforce rules, as well as teach lessons about bullying, Middleton said.

"It’s not uncommon for young people to experience bullying, but today we are identifying it more,” said Clinton A. Lewis, a clinical psychologist who practices in Edmond.

Lewis said emotional damage from being bullied depends on the type of harassment and how long it lasts, but can include anxiety, depression, anger and the loss of ability to interact with peers.

"It can affect kids as they mature, and can affect them academically, socially and emotionally,” Lewis said. He said bullied kids often come up with excuses to miss school in attempts to avoid a situation over which they feel they have no control.


What students said
→ "It’s getting out of control. Whether it’s prejudice remarks, most remarks or anything. Bigotry is horrible, too. I can’t stand it. It hurts … ”

→ "If this bullying continues someone might commit suicide.”

→ "They are mean to us. They make me want to kill them.”

Comments from Oklahoma students who were bullied:

• “Teachers need to care more. I had a girl call me a snitch right in front of the whole class and she didn’t do anything except say ‘that’s mean’ and made her apologize in front of the whole class. The whole class laughed at me ‘cause I started crying.”

• “It’s getting out of control. Whether it’s prejudice remarks, most remarks or anything. Bigotry is horrible, too. I can’t stand it. It hurts…”

• “I got bullied all last week. Whatever you’re doing about this, it isn’t working.”

• “It happens a lot more than adults think. They better get it under control, because people are beginning to take their own actions. Especially me.”

• “If this bullying continues someone might commit suicide.”

• “They are mean to us. They make me want to kill them.”

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