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Bullying can have harmful emotional, psychological and academic effects for children which could last a lifetime.

It is estimated that more than five million children are bullied each year in the U.S. and as many as one hundred sixty thousand children miss school each day because of bullying.  Dr. Mary Dobbins, assistant professor of psychiatry at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, describes bullying.

SOUND BITE:    “Bullying happens when someone is trying to exert power over somebody else by purposefully making them uncomfortable.  And this could be something that happens in a recurring pattern.  This is somebody who is purposefully meaning to do this as their way of interactions with others.” 

Boys tend to use physical forms such as pushing and hitting, while girls are more likely to use psychological bullying -- embarrassing someone, starting rumors and excluding others from a group.  Cyber bullying with threatening messages being sent by cell phones and computers also is becoming a concern.  She advices parents about bullying.

SOUND BITE:  “. . . safety is the first thing you would consider.  On the other hand it’s not always taking the child out of the situation or bringing adults in.  Sometimes it warrants that, but part of it is teaching the victim how to be more self confident, how to be more assertive, how to be less vulnerable to this kind of thing as well.” 

Dr. Dobbins says that parents should listen to their children and make sure they known what to do so nothing dangerous can happen.  Also, encourage the child to report the bullying to their teacher or another adult.   

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.