Digging Deeper: Why bullying in person has gotten worse - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Why bullying in person has gotten worse

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MADISON, Wis. (WKOW) -

Bullying is something a lot of people feel, but many don't like to talk about.  As your kids head back to school, medical professionals explain why bullying at school has gotten even worse. 

Take Kayla Dewey.  On the outside, she's all smiles and laughs, and she'll give you a great, bug hug when she meets you.  She's starting her senior year at Edgerton High School Thursday.  "I'm so excited," she tells us. 

Along with that excitement though, comes memories of a time in her life when school wasn't so fun.  Kayla was bullied.  "I was petrified," she says.  "I was completely scared that the same girls were going to be there, and they were going to keep coming after me, keep coming after me with names and the hitting and the pulling of my hair... It was just a very low time." 

Clinical specialist, Jeremy Pieper, at Meriter's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Hospital says as kids go back to school, they know their hospital facilities will get busy again.  "Mid to late September we typically see a spike, and then we stay busy up through the holidays." 

The internet isn't helping, Pieper explains.  "What we're seeing with that then is that these kids don't get a rest anymore.  They go home, and there's no break from the bullying anymore."

What he's noticed is that cyberbullying can sometimes make in-person bullying worse.  "You've already practiced it," says Pieper.  "When you get into the school, it's easy to jump right into, why don't you go kill yourself." 

"Bullying hurts," Kayla says, and it took her a long time to overcome that hurt. 

"It wasn't an overnight thing," she says. 

After some big conversations with her parents and counselors, plus time to heal, Kayla is now using her experience as a victim to bring the issue into light.  The anti-bullying movement is her platform during pageants she competes in. 

"Just because somebody may be different doesn't mean you have to pick on them," says Kayla.  "Just be a friend."

"Ideally we could tip the culture from one of where bullying is okay to one where you're kind of the odd one out if you're the one that's bullying," says Pieper.  He encourages people to support each other, talk about bullying and look for signs. 

Pieper says some of the signs of a bullying victim can include:
- Fear to go to school
- Feelings of anxiety
- More frequent sickness
- Not sleeping well
- Distraction
- Hopelessness
- Smaller groups of friends
- Slip in academics
- Self-harm

He recommends people seek professional help from the school or a doctor if academics are slipping or there are signs of self-harm. 

As for signs of being a bully, Pieper says those can include:
- More aggression
- Hurtful posts on social media
- Obtaining valuables that belong to others
- Suggestions of a bad reputation among peers

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