Atlanta meeting will explore ways to fight school bullying


By Gracie Bonds Staples
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
In a normal year, Theresa Hyde and her 12-year-old daughter would be looking forward to the start of school on Monday. But this year, the Alpharetta mom says, back to school promises to be more like back to cruel as her family braces for yet another cold reality — the school bully.

“Right now we are literally in dread mode,” said Hyde.

Studies show that about 30 percent of school children in grades 6-10 have been bullied, been the target of bullying or both.

The issue has taken on national urgency in the last few years, spawning campaigns, including Stop Bullying Now!, launched in 2004 by the Health Resources and Services Administration to help educate children ages 9 to 13.

More recently, Atlanta Falcons defensive end Chauncey Davis addressed the topic at summer youth programs and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement encouraging doctors to take a more active role in preventing school bullying.

Georgia’s Coalition Against Bullying will host a town hall meeting Aug. 15 to give kids a chance to talk about bullying and learn how schools and communities can effectively address the issue.

“We have to create a safe environment in which children can express themselves without fear,” said Tyleis Speight, southeast regional director of National Action Network, the civil rights group led by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

The gathering, scheduled to begin at noon at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, is open to the public.

In a study published this summer in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers found that while nearly 10 percent of children are bullied by electronic means such as text messages, bullying remains much more common in person, with large numbers of kids harassing one another by spreading rumors, turning fellow students into outcasts and intimidating others through words and violence. Thirteen percent of students said they were hit, kicked, pushed or locked indoors. Full story.

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