Dr. Phil Takes Up Cyber-Bullying Fight

This morning in Washington, D.C., internet safety experts and other witnesses will tell a congressional committee about the growing problem of bullying, both in school and online. Dr. Phil McGraw, host of "The Dr. Phil Show," will be testifying at the hearing.

McGraw appeared on "The Early Show" Thursday from Washington.

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McGraw said he wants to talk today about the "wild wild web" and its impact on kids.

"It is so out of control," he said. "These kids are getting isolated in their homes. They're getting isolated on these computers. And they're getting their reputations ruined. This is something that is so different because there was a time when the bullies were limited to school. They would write things on the bathroom wall or bother kids on the playground or lunchroom. But now it travels with them -- even if they change schools. They can get isolated in their own homes. The cyber-bullying is a serious, serious problem. We've got to figure out what to do to get this under control."

"Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith pointed out that when many of these kids are bullied, they quit attending school because they're so humiliated.

McGraw added, "So much of what's going on today is beyond parents because our kids are much more computer literate than we are. They can Photoshop pictures and put a child in a humiliating or embarrassing situation. They write e-mails, write letters, and so often we see these kids become isolated, withdrawn, they stop going to school. And they can even, as we have seen so tragically with situations like Phoebe Prince, can wind up actually taking their lives. I mean, this is a terrible burden on these kids. We've got to give the educators the tools they need to prevent this, to intervene in this. It requires training. They need to know how to intervene when it is happening. We've got to raise awareness about this."

McGraw said many children are being victimized in this way.

He explained, "What we know is that 42 percent of all children say they have been bullied online, 35 percent say they have been outright threatened online. And here's the problem, 85 percent of this goes completely unabated. There is never any detention, there is never any complaint that is followed up. So, this is something that's affecting almost one in two children and we're basically not doing anything about it. That's what today's hearings are about, to try to get this under control."

If you're a parent and you realize your child is being bullied, McGraw suggests getting involved with your child right away.

"Sometimes parents make the mistake of saying, this is just kids being kids," he said. "This is the most alone and isolated your child will ever feel. That's when you need to put your arm around their shoulder and you need to help them. When you go to the school, don't run in there historically, like your hair's on fire. These teachers are dedicated. They are devoted. They want to help, but they need to be made aware. We need to track down who these kids are. These keyboard bullies are anonymous, which means they're even more mean, more aggressive because they can hide behind anonymity. The school wants to help. So, enlist the help of the teachers."

For more with Dr. Phil, check out his blog posting on bullying here.
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