Beating the bully

Seminar shows it’s learned at home

ORTLAND - Bullying begins at home.

That was a message from one of the speakers from state and federal agencies who spoke Thursday night on ''Combating Teenage Bullying in Your Schools.''

"A lot of what the mean-spirited bullying kids are doing, they're learning it at home. They're learning it from their adult role models," Georgia Constantino, a pediatric psychologist at Akron Children's Hospital, said.

Constantino ran through statistics that show 7 to 13 percent of students are straight bullies, while 6 percent of students are bullies who are also victims. Straight victims comprise 9 to 11 percent of the population, and 70 to 78 percent are bystanders.

She said bullies lack empathy, can't recognize pain in others, take an aggressive approach to life and in some cases, even enjoy cruelty. Their behavior comes from either too much or too little self-esteem, she said.

Their victims can be anyone, Constantino said. Being too pretty or not pretty enough can make someone a target, or being overweight or too skinny or too smart.

Victims can become hyper-sensitive and may lack defense skills and are unable to strategize. She said they have a hard time handling the distress and their symptoms can eventually shape their personal identity. In extreme cases, children can develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Constantino was one of the speakers during the fourth and final edition of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's seminar series. More than 200 teachers, school bus drivers and parents from across Trumbull and Mahoning counties filled Raidel Auditorium at Lakeview High School for the forum.

Following a video message from Brown, who was not in attendance, the senator's grants coordinator, Leon Mason, handed the podium over to U.S. Attorney for the Department of Education Tanya Williams Sample, who explained the nuts and bolts of bullying.

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