Breaking the Silence
"My experiences with cyber bullying began when I was in middle school, because a former friend accused me of stealing. What I didn't know was that she would soon become my bully. She proceeded to bully me on MySpace. She would send me mean and hateful messages. There was nowhere in the world I could go to get away from her, because she was in my school, she was on my computer. She just kept sending me messages," recalls 17-year-old Catherine. "I just couldn't deal with it anymore. Being a victim of cyber bullying, I felt unwanted, I felt like there was no reason for me to be alive."
Catherine sits onstage in front of Dara. "You can't take it personally. It hurt me when I went through it," she says, through tears. "Even if you don't feel like you can tell anyone, you just have to write it all down. If you don't feel like you can tell your sister or your mom, and it's not something you feel like you can talk about yet, you can write it down in a journal. You can't keep it bottled up."
Catherine shares that she initially tried to work it out with her bully. "After a while, she started sending me death threats. I figured, ‘I have to tell my mom if she's going to try to kill me.'"
[AD]Dr. Phil turns to Catherine's mother, Jamie. "What did you think when she first came to you?" he asks.
"I was shocked. Our problem really began just because she was new. It's something you can never prepare yourself for, and something you never look for," she replies. "You think there might be one mean kid, but you never really imagine that it's going to escalate to the level it did escalate to. It was horrifying to go through," she answers.
"Tell me about the point in time when you thought that the best option was to actually take your life?" Dr. Phil asks Catherine.
Catherine shares her story.
Parry has a message for Dara. "You can take the power back. You can say, ‘Not me. Not now.' Six kids bullied you. What about the other hundreds of kids in your school who didn't? We need them to step up, and speak out," she says.
"I promise you, there will be kids in your school who have been bullied as well," Dr. Phil adds. "It's time that we really decide that there is strength in numbers. When the bullies become the minority, when the bullies no longer have free reign, all of a sudden, that's not the cool thing to do."
Dara's principal, Anthony Alvino of Boardman Glenman Middle School, gave the Dr. Phil show the following statement: "We do not, as a school, get involved if it [the cyber bullying] happened at a previous school. We also don't get involved if it happened in the summer or on the weekend. If on school grounds, we intervene with parents and students. In terms of punitive measures, we would refer to authorities. Anything we have jurisdiction over is ours, and anything else we don't. That's the problem we have to deal with constantly."
[AD]"We've got to stop figuring out how we can not be the one who has to deal with it, and start finding out ways where we can deal with it," Dr. Phil says.
Parry agrees. "If we see it as a civil rights issue, the schools have more of a jurisdiction on this one," she says. "The Secretary of Education held an event two weeks ago where a hundred of us were brought together from all over the country to look at this to see what the schools can do to stop it."