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.