Gwenn Schurgin O’Keefe, a pediatrician and mother of two, knows that her children have been bullied -- and that they're not alone. Conservative figures estimate that 25 percent of kids are physically bullied at some point, and as many as 42 percent endure cyberbullying -- being harassed via the Internet or cell phones.
In an article for Gatehouse News Service, Dr. O'Keefe urged parents and other caregivers to make sure that they are paying attention to children who are -- or are at risk of -- being bullied:
What we fail to realize as parents it that kids don't categorize situations as we do. Situations we view as "not bad" or "mild" are still incredibly painful. In fact, in the case of bullying, it all hurts, and it's extremely challenging to categorize it.
We can look back after the fact in some cases, such as the tragic suicide death of Phoebe Phoenix of South Hadley High School in South Hadley, Mass., and recognize how intense that was with nothing being done.
However, all bullying is intense and does escalate. That means we have to pay attention to each and every report of bullying and stop it before it gets to the point of no return for the victim and before they feel so helpless that he or she reaches for some extreme cry for help ... Those extreme cries for help mean that the system and adults within that system have let that child down and failed to protect that child.