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GARMISCH, Germany — Kids say the darnedest things. Especially bullies. But there are ways to stop bullying, and to stop kids from becoming bullies, according to attendees last week at the European PTA Conference.

“There’s a lot of unseen bullying,” said Ofelia Robles, assistant principal at Naples High School. “We have one on the school bus who doesn’t touch anybody but just harasses (the victim) to death.

“And there’s low-level extortion, like taking your lunch money. But (compared) to the U.S., this is piddly.”

Still, it exists. Bullies typically pick on other kids to get attention and feel superior, at least to the person they are bullying, Robles said. They tend to be poor students and have weak relationships with their parents.

“You’ve got to get them to feel good about themselves,” Robles said. “Most of these kids will connect with an educator. So you have to figure out what’s going on at home.”

Robles thought that parents of children entering kindergarten should be trained on how to have effective parent-teacher conferences, which could nip bullying in the bud as the child grows.

The conference brought together 60 volunteers from about 18 schools throughout Europe. The attendees were then to go back to their schools with ideas on solving problems and bringing more volunteers into the fold.

One said that bullying victims, too, need to have self-esteem.

“If you teach a child to respect himself and others, they’re not going to treat others in a disrespectful way,” said Drae Hackett, the mother of two students at Ramstein Middle School. “And if they have respect for themselves, they won’t be afraid to stand up for themselves.”

Young conferees knew all about bullies.

“It’s a person who is bad and hurts people’s feelings,” said Christel-Ann Ramus, the 8-year-old daughter of Staff Sgt. Paul and Kay Ramus of Würzburg.

“One time I was playing with friends, and people started pushing my friend,” Christel-Ann said. “They called her ‘littlehead’ and tried to get her ball and throw it at her. I said that I think it isn’t right and it needs to be changed.”

Ramstein American Middle School has established a “bullying box,” where victims or witnesses can secretly blow the whistle on bullies.

At one workshop, a story was told of an eighth-grader being threatened, and the boy’s friend turning in the perpetrator via the bullying box. The assistant principal contacted the would-be perpetrator and his parents, and there’s been no trouble since.

“The bullying box enables kids to create their own safe school environment,” said Kay Meyer, mother of a fourth- and sixth-grader in Ramstein.

Meyer said she once confronted the mother of a boy who had called her son, who was two years younger, an obscene name.

“The next day the mom marched her son down to the bus stop and had the boy apologize to me and my boy,” Meyer said.

“You should not be intimidated (from acting) for fear of making someone upset. If parents don’t learn their child is acting in an inappropriate way, how does she teach?”

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