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Identifying Bullies - Is Your Child on the List?

June 28, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah parents who have seen the YouTube video of seventh-grade boys harassing a 68-year-old school bus monitor may wonder if their children could do such a thing.

Christy Buck, director of the Mental Health Foundation, says parents who don't want their children to turn into bullies need to talk about the behavior, explaining its deadly connection.

"Even the strongest-willed, athletic, super person at a school could possibly have the predisposition for depression, and ultimately something that somebody says or how they're treated, that person can go take their life."

Buck runs a program in schools which raises awareness about depression and bullying to prevent incidents such as the one in New York. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 26 percent of American high school students struggle with depression, and nearly 14 percent of students have seriously considered suicide.

Buck says studies show that 80 percent of students would never bully another student. However, there's more to it.

"There are a boatload of kids that just, they don't want to be mean. They stand by and watch it, but they don't know what to do."

The "Be Nice" program teaches students about mental health. When she presents it in schools, Buck says, she is blunt about telling students that reporting or getting up the courage to confront a bully actually could prevent a suicide.

Additional advice to Utah parents: If the children are old enough to handle the profanity in the video, Buck says to use it as a teaching tool to discuss how harmful bullying can be to everyone.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - UT