Seeking solutions to teen bullying

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Four teenage defendants were arraigned Monday in Juvenile Court in San Diego in connection with the April 11 beating of another teenager in a Chula Vista taco shop.

The attack evidently stemmed from harassment that occurred on social media.

Last week, community members rallied to support the 16 year old victim, Paul Martin.

In extreme cases that result in physical violence, police and courts have to get involved.

Yet, looking at the problem of bullying as a larger social problem, community members, parents and school staff also have a role to play in preventing bullying. Psychologist and parenting expert Reena Patel said by failing to stop the harassing behavior, we are sending the wrong message. “We’re reinforcing those negative and unacceptable behaviors that the bullies are engaging in.” She said that parents need to tell their children that they are resilient and that what is happening to them is not their fault.

Chula Vista police chief Roxana Kennedy agreed that parents and school staff need to be actively involved in preventing cyber-bullying. She suggested that parents should learn to intervene by obtaining the passwords for their child’s social media accounts, looking at their posts and becoming more informed. “Teach your kids if someone does bully you, take a screen shot of that. Show it to your parents, your teachers, work with your school resource officers,” Kennedy said.

In the case of the attack on Paul Martin, information from the community helped investigators identify and arrest the six suspects.

Kennedy suggested greater use of an app called P3 Tips, which allows community members to send anonymous tips to law enforcement.

For a child or young person who’s being bullied, speaking out may feel like the last thing they want to do. However, both the psychologist and the police chief said flipping the script is another way to teach a child about empowerment. “Let’s praise you for the effort for standing up and coming forward, and telling and showing and modeling that it’s not acceptable,” Patel said.

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