TAMPA, Fla. - Listening to a child recount an instance of bullying is enough to bring a parent to tears.
Now, as cases of bullying increase, schools, parents, teachers and children all across the country are meeting this challenge head-on.
One dramatic case of bullying at a West Palm Beach Middle School was captured on cell phone video.
The 13-year-old victim claims bullying by a classmate escalated to to him being beaten up at school.
16-year-old Gabi Padirila tells a similar story of being constantly harassed, including being pushed down stairs and punched in the face.
The abuse got so bad, Gabi became extremely depressed and then had thoughts of suicide.
Psychologists say bullying is a way for someone to gain social power over their peers. A child who is being bullied can feel powerless, angry and like they just don't belong. Just like in Gabi's case, those feelings can lead to depression or feelings of hopelessness.
Joshua blames his teacher in part.
"He's supposed to be watching everybody in the class. But at the end of the class, when they put their books away, he just let the class go wild," Joshua said.
Around the country, legislatures are passing laws and school districts are educating their leaders on bullying.
Parents can also help stop the bullying before it gets out of control.
Teach your child to respect others. Understand how to communicate effectively and also teach your child how to be kind and not mean.
What should parents watch for?
Kids might be victims of bullies if they avoid certain social settings, isolate themselves, suddenly start making lower grades, have depression, or angry outbursts.
Tampa Bay Parenting magazine recommends you talk to your kids regularly about bullying.
Help your child find confidence by asking what they value, what's important to them and what they stand for. Once you've done that, help your child get involved in extracurricular activities and seek out others in school with like values.
Teach kids to make decisions based on values. Don’t let others push you around or make you feel shame about something.
Show kindness, even to the bully. Remember the act of kindness not only makes you feel better but reminds yourself that you want people to respect you rather than be afraid of you.
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