Parenting 101: Kelsey and Shari

Parenting 101: Kelsey and Shari

Sixteen-year-old Kelsey is the victim of vicious online gossip. She explains, "People would call me a slut, a bitch, and a whore, and say that I go out and get drunk and sleep with boys. There was no truth to these rumors whatsoever." She says she constantly has to defend herself, and that her friends have stopped talking to her. She is tired of people questioning her character and admits, "There have been days when I haven't wanted to go to school because I don't want to have to deal with the rumors."

Her mother, Shari, confronted some of the people involved with the bullying, but says that it made Kelsey's life even more miserable. "Her father and I are just not sure how to handle it," says Shari. "Do we monitor her e-mail? Do we limit her computer time? Do we change schools?"

Dr. Phil turns to his son, Jay, for advice on bullying.

"The reason they get away with it is because they isolate you," Jay explains to Kelsey. "The key is to get the entire student body to become the police force." Friends and peers have to realize that if they stand there, they are letting bullying happen, they are just as guilty as the cowards who start the rumors."

Dr. Phil adds to this advice by telling Shari, "You need to take your daughter by the hand, and you need to go to the school, and you need to talk to them about what's going on, and you need to get these people out into the sunlight."
Dr. Phil introduces several guests — a school counselor, a principal and a detective — who give first-hand advice on how to manage all types of bullying. They stress that the most important action to take is to report the instances of harassment to the child's school. When the child's safety is at risk, you should also contact the local police department.

In response to Shari's question when it's the right time for a parent to take action, Dr. Phil answers, "When we are talking about an organized, persistent attack on your daughter's character that is affecting her, it is time to get involved."
Dr. Phil presents the two fronts to dealing with bullying. The first front is internal: You have to affirm yourself and have confidence that others will see you for who you really are. The second front is external: You have to stand up for yourself and uphold your reputation.

He tells Kelsey that once she tells the school, he will send Jay to run an assembly on bullying and have everyone sign his anti-bullying pledge. This pledge states, "If I stand silently by while somebody here is bullying somebody there, I am just as guilty as if I was doing it." He tells Kelsey that in every school Jay has been to, 100 percent of the kids have signed the pledge and "they are absolutely drumming the bullies out of the system."