Dr. Phil: Children Must Be Taught In New Ways To Curb Bullying

CHICAGO (CBS) — Dr. Phil McGraw said Wednesday that a change in education policy will be needed to curb the epidemic of bullying in schools.

CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini reported Tuesday night on Christie Paulick, a former Grayslake North High School student who was attacked by other girls in the hallway at her locker. Dozens of fellow students stood around and watched as Christie was blindsided with a punch then repeatedly kicked. She suffered a broken nose and required surgery to repair a badly damaged eye.

Paulick suffered nightmares and she says she was ridiculed when she returned to school; it became too much and led to her suffering severe anxiety.

“I don’t feel safe at all at that school,” she said. “I wasn’t able to stay home alone. I didn’t trust anyone, I stepped away from friends who have been friends with me for years.”

Speaking with Savini and CBS 2’s Harry Porterfield and Roseanne Tellez Wednesday, Dr. Phil said what jumped out at him in Paulick’s case was the fact that so many bystanders did nothing – or even laughed.

“That tells me that we as educators; we as parents; we as adults are not creating empathy within these children and telling them what to do in this kind of situation,” Dr. Phil said. “They shouldn’t have to be thinking their way through it at the time. It should be part of their curriculum. We should teach them what’s going on.”

About 160,000 students nationwide who miss school every day because they are afraid of being attacked or bullied by fellow students. As Dr. Phil points out, the bullies often glorify their attacks by posting them on YouTube.

“That tells us that we aren’t developing in these kids what needs to be developed so they regard the value of another person’s life,” Dr. Phil said. “We’re not going to do it until we amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to include funding to train teachers, and to put in the curriculum information to teach these kids what to do.”

But students need to be taught to stand up for themselves and solve their own problems, some parents might say. Dr. Phil says there is a difference between dealing with conflict and being subjected to torture and victimization.

“When your child is being isolated; carved out of the group and victimized in a patterned way – whether it’s physically mentally emotionally – that is the loneliest time is a child’s life. That’s when the parents need to step up,” Dr. Phil said. “They don’t need to run into the school hysterical accusing teachers and administrators. These are dedicated professionals that want to help. Partner with them to help your child.”

But what about the parents of the bullies? Dr. Phil says they need to address their children’s behavior, and not just with disciplinary measures.

“They need treatment as well. They’ve got problems with impulse control; anger management issues, and every one of these bullies has a parent,” he said. “Parents should say, ‘Are you bullying someone? Are you isolating someone?’”

He points out that many children who become bullies come from homes that are plagued by violence – be it domestic violence r corporal punishment – and many have also been bullied themselves.

As for Paulick, after her family contacted CBS 2, and after the surveillance video was released, she finally was given the help she needed. Grayslake North paid for a special school-refusal therapy program at Alexian Brothers.

The therapy sessions take place during a minimum two-week period. The students work in mock classrooms, learn how to process their anxiety, and handle bullies and other school-related traumas.

Since its creation five years ago, the program has helped over 800 students from across the Midwest.

Paulick is in the process of completing the program and is enrolling in a different high school. She says she wants to do well and go to college.

The students who attacked her were prosecuted as juveniles and removed from the school.

Dr. Phil can be seen at 3 p.m. every weekday on CBS 2.

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  • just me

    I know some kids bully because Mom and Dad do it at work to family and others and teach kids its OK. Like my former boss.

    We need to STAND UP to this and tell them you cann’t treat this person this way even if you don’t know them by name.

    We need to have ethical role models.

    What happened to our rights that all people are treated equally.

  • Travis

    this is paert of why slaves should have been rehabilitated back into the american culture, and not just re-released into the wild. now we have the problem of obviously poor descisions(and often the punishment that goes with it) bieng glorified and seen as positive. Because of this innaccuracy, smart children are bieng exposed to an increasingly unclear standpoint regarding intelligence, can bieng smart be cool (like all of the 80’s movies used to show us) or does smart always = LAME? It used to be painfully obvious that bieng even just a little clever was WAY MORE beneficial than not. With that bieng said, what made bieng a random attacker and hurting a defenseless girl, somthing that looked cool? who wants to be the d-bag that beats up girls?

  • Amy G

    Firstly, bullies generally are weak people that choose to adopt a “dog pack” mentality, to cover for their own lack of family, discipline, love or care, and they project it as anger and violence onto those they feel most threatened by (for whatever reason). In getting others to join them in the bullying, further reassures their stance that it is ok for them to act in this manner…as well as, they are now perceived as “cool” or “feared” and it becomes their little protective bubble…”no one messes with Jonny and his gang, or they get a beat down.”

    Secondly, Travis…it has NOTHING to do with slaves……where that came from, not sure I’d ever understand what slaves/bullying have to do with one another…especially in THIS context/forum.

    Thirdly, I find it appalling that friends, family, parents, schools could let these incidents go as far as they do…or go unnoticed. Are folks really paying that little attention to the decline of their children’s moods and withdrawing and all of the warning bells and whistles that generally go off when a child is being terrorized…that the bullies are now just reigning champs at these schools and are given carte blanche to affect, so horribly, the lives of students they feel threatened by? (and usually because they are smart, or this girl found out the guy she crushed on likes this other girl instead)… REALLY???

    My daughter is two. As it stands right now, she is already dealing with the “bully pecking order” when she plays with other children that are so much more aggressive than she. I deal with it right at the source. I don’t let them sort it out, punch it out, push this one off the bed/couch/chair whatever…to see if they will work it out themselves.

    If another child is acting poorly to my child, and I see it, I address it right then and there. The same goes for my child. If I see her acting poorly towards another child/person…she is reprimanded, stopped in her tracks and explained to…the reasons why it is hurtful to be mean to other people, animals whatever…

    She is taught to express her emotions in words, and hash it out verbally, find a way to diffuse the situation, whatever it may be, take a deep breath and move on.

    My daughter is a pretty smart little cookie, and I can see now, that in future, her verbal skills will cause her some issue, because those that maybe aren’t as well along as she, will take that as a threat as well…and we will have to learn to deal with that when the time comes.

    Bullying, is bullying…period. It should NOT be tolerated on ANY level.

  • Susan Peckham

    I’m smart, but am too depressed to look for any other place to print this. I’m too old to get better but let me help you, show parents how badly they can hurt their babies. I was hurt badly enough, to not want to have my babies. My mother told us girls how to abort our babies. I’m not stupid, with crossed eyes or inbred from the back hills. I am an RN in ER and Trauma and am physically disabled.

  • Bridget

    My family still suffers a financial hardship from my daughter’s kindergarten injury from her former kimdergarten public school……She still thanks me for her new school……She said her new school is nice because the grown ups watch the children……Most days she recounts her different bad days from her former school including her hard time during recess……IL Public Schools have Immunity; thus, their Immunity fosters the school Bully mentality……Her fractered face from kindergarten Mandatory PE Class was horrible and she was not going back to school unless I would be with her all day…..It was painful to see my daughter’s battered face and covered in blood when I went to school…I was told by phone she just had a bloody lip and she would be put on the bus…….Her oral pediatric surgeon was shocked to see her injury from school…..

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