Parent Speaks Out about Bullying

Statistics show that 30 percent of all children are affected by bullying. They're being bullied or they are the bully.

A local mom is now on a mission to stop this type behavior.

On Mar. 30, 2012, Jennifer Martin's 9-year-old daughter, Melissa, died from a congenital condition.
But she said her daughter was often teased and a victim of bullies, because of her medical condition.

Melissa suffered from a heart murmur, kidney disorder, high blood pressure, and thyroid and asthma problems. Her school backpack was filled with medications she needed to take.

Melissa's medical conditions caused her eyes to water and her stomach to sometimes swell.

"And she would come home and be crying saying, 'Mom, the kids don't like me. They hate me, and I don't understand why it is that I'm being picked on, or why they don't leave me alone'," said Martin.

Despite the ridicule from some, Martin says encouragement from family helped to keep Melissa's spirits high.

Child psychologist, Dr. Lin Hogan, with Weems Mental Health Center, says there are often key factors that lead to bullying.

"Research supports the fact that children that are exposed to violent types of films, video games, violence within their homes and neighborhoods, they're more pre-disposed to committing violent or aggressive acts," Hogan said.

Dr. Hogan says bullies are often insecure and bully others in an attempt to avoid being ridiculed themselves. He says it's important for parents to seek out the necessary help for their child if he or she is a bully.

As for victims, he says parents should take the matter seriously, take steps to stop it and seek out professional help for the victim if necessary.

Martin says a strong family support system is what helped her family then and now. Following Melissa's death, she found a hidden message in the 9-year-old girl's diary that can only be read with a special light. It reads, 'I know you love me, Mom and Dad, so you don't have to say it. Love, Melissa.'

"This goes with me everywhere," Martin said.

Hogan has some tips for victims of bullying. First, he says try to avoid a bully and don't engage him. When confronted by a bully, he says you should try to act like you don't care, ignore the bully and walk away. Once away from the bully he says the victim should always alert a parent or school official about what is happening.