As the start of the school year approaches, local teachers and guidance counselors got some tips on how to deal with a growing problem in all levels of schools; dealing with bullies.
Colorado based parenting expert Barbara Coloroso told the group at the Ecumenical Center for Religion and Health that the key to deterring bullying is to starve the bully of the status he or she receives by the act of bullying, and that means empowering all students to stand up to bullies.
"The kid who knows better, has been raised to act with integrity and civility and is afraid to step in, that is the person who needs to get our support," Coloroso told the group.
She says the problem of bullying has increase in the last twenty years, with new forms of bullying made possible by on line social media sites.
A bully does it not because he or she wants the two dollars in lunch money that may be stolen from the kid on the playground, but because it provides the bully with higher status in the peer group.
So Coloroso says the key to for the kids the bully depends on to achieve that high status not to provide it.
"When the high status social bully says to all of the other girls, I don't like the new girl, I don't want you to eat lunch with her, I want your daughter to be the one who stands up and says 'that's mean, that's cruel'," she said.
She says if the bully realizes that bullying will not gain them social status and will instead lead to them being ostracized, that is the quickest way to end the practice.
She said it is similar to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's claim that he fought the Mafia on the streets and in the courts, but the most effective anti Mafia action took place in the Italian bars of Queens, where teenagers began to think of Mafia leaders as 'icky' and no longer aspired to life in the mob.
Coloroso says one of the biggest problems with bullying it what it does to the bully later in life.
"It is a short walk from schoolyard bullying to hate crimes, which are on the rise in our country today."