Expert On School Bullies Visits Tyler

It's an epidemic affecting every school in America. Studies show 160,000 students stay home everyday to avoid school bullies, according to SuEllen Fried, author of "Bullies and Victims."

The Smith County Medical Society Alliance and the Parent Services Center hope Fried can stop bullying in Tyler schools. Fried, a grandmother of seven, spoke to kids at Rice Elementary in Tyler Wednesday.

   "I want people to realize that the cruelty children impose on each another can be as devastating as the cruelty of adults to children," she said. SuEllen's book has brought public attention to an issue once considered trivial .

   "Unfortunately, in this country, we didn't pay any attention until students started shooting and killing each other," SuEllen said Wednesday.

Seth Gilliam, an 8th grader at C. Brown Middle School in Tyler, says most kids have witnessed some sort of bullying in their lifetime. He associates school yard harassment with the Columbine shootings.

And while most kids know who the bullies are, few admire them.

"I think they don't feel important, so they cut other kids down to make themselves feel important," said fifth grader Thomas Moseley.

Even if kids are not picked on, watching others ridiculed can be disturbing.

"I think it does affect most people, especially people who are friends of those being teased," said T.J. Davis.

Diane-Davis Blair, a mother of two Rice Elementary students, says her kids can relate. While they're not teased, they get upset when other kids are taunted. Blair applauds the school for addressing the issue.

"Back in my day, a bully came to beat you up, and that was the end of it," she recalls. "But these days it's kind of getting a little bit deeper into what the kids wear and what they do."

Suellen says kids who are bullied should: Report the student attacking them, resist teasing them back, walk with confidence, joke off the bully's insults, and don't take their comments to heart.

   Suellen will be speaking Thursday at All Saints Episcopal School in Tyler.

   Kerri Panchuk, reporting.