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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A relatively small turnout for an anti-bullying forum Thursday night at Seoul American Elementary School wasn’t a bad thing, according to school staff.

On the contrary, that fewer than a dozen parents and children attended highlights the fact that bullying isn’t cause for significant concern at the school, said Korea District Assistant Superintendent Peter Grenier.

We “don’t see it as a major problem,” he said during a question-and-answer period after the event.

Counselor Melissa Royalty, assisted by fellow counselors Janine Parker and Rydell Wilkins, conducted the forum.

Royalty said the goals were to help identify whether a child either is a bully or is being bullied, and to learn how to address the problem.

Bullying isn’t a one-time case of hurt feelings over a remark, she said. It’s a continuing process of using words or actions to hurt, humiliate or put down a victim.

Bullies “often have low self-esteem” and want control, she said.

While girls are bullied by both girls and boys, boys usually are bullied only by other boys, she said. Methods of bullying also differ between the sexes, Royalty explained.

Girls will ostracize or gossip about other girls, while the boy-on-boy bullying often turns aggressive.

The consequences are serious, she said. Children can become depressed, lonely and anxious, develop low self-esteem and even contemplate suicide.

One of the key things parents can do is be involved in their children’s lives.

“The most important thing … is listen,” Royalty said. “Your child wants to be heard. They need that one-on-one time with you.”

Parents alerting school officials of any bullying incident, whether on- or off-campus, also is important, she said.

The school teaches pupils the difference between “tattling” and “reporting.” Tattling, they say, is telling an adult about behavior that is “harmless or unimportant.” Reporting, on the other hand, is reporting behavior that puts someone’s safety at risk.

And the school strives to be a “bully-proof zone,” according to a pamphlet provided to parents.

“We want (students) ultimately to be productive adults,” Royalty said. “All of us work as a team to build up our children.”

And, the “schoolyard bully is not the only one out there,” school principal Don Christensen said.

He said “cyber-bullying,” using text messaging, e-mail, Internet chat rooms or blog sites, also is a reality today.

“We had a little bit last year … and one incident this year,” he said.

‘Bully-proof zone’

Seoul American Elementary School strives to be a “bully-proof zone,” according to a pamphlet provided to parents. Officials there attempt to eliminate bullying behavior by:

Administrators working with children, parents and educators to ensure everyone follows school rules.Counselors teaching lessons on positive self-image, problem solving, reporting and learning appropriate social behavior.Teachers incorporating lessons regarding diversity and acceptance.— T.D. Flack


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