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October 15th, 2010
07:44 AM ET

Bullying: No Escape

You’re ugly! You’re an Idiot! Fatty!

Just a few examples of words bullies might use. Bullying is front and center these days as suicides and hate crimes across the country seem to be on the rise.

Masika Bermudez has written a letter to President Obama addressing the loss of her 11 year-old son, Jaheem Herrera, to suicide last year. She says the bullying hasn’t stopped. Bermudez says a boy in her daughter’s class is now teasing her about her brother’s suicide.

In her letter, Bermudez writes, “Mr. President, bullying is still an issue here in Georgia, and all over the United States. Our children are dying, because they think this is the only way out. I think that the parents and administrators should be held accountable for my son's untimely death.”

We want to hear from you! Are schools doing enough to intervene and stop bullying? Should the government get involved?

Looking for a source to educate your kids about what to do if they are bullied? Check out
Stop Bullying Now. An interactive website designed for todays youth with games and videos.

Filed under: Kyra Phillips
soundoff (29 Responses)

    For the bullying segment, I would like to suggest that you encourage the adults to take the lead, especially those who have children. *Adults* should take a look at their own behavior to assess if they are a bully or not. Do they bully their spouses? Their co-workers? Their neighbors? Their friends? Or, if they know they may have bullied someone as a child, have they gone to that person and apologized? Years later, they can help heal someone's wounds. The best example for children would be to see adults stop bully and be penitent for any bullying they've done in the past by asking forgiveness.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  2. Ray Congdon

    My 12-year-old daughter and I were just watching your piece on bullying. She told me she had tried to stand up for a student who was being bullied at her school (Sacajawea Middle School – Federal Way, WA). School officials told her it was none of her business and she needed to stay out of it and ignore it. She was accused of being a trouble maker because she got involved.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:40 am |
  3. chris

    Schools don't do enough as its both students fault than only one. its really just harrasment I don't think bullying is the right word for it anymore.

    I been bullied before. and if schools acutally did anything we wouldn't be talking about it to this day still. Yes i was bullied till about middle school. i did some things i didn't like when it seem i trun into a bully. more pressure i guess you could put it as now.

    I now keep a closer eye out. Here one that i was a voulnteer umpire for a litte leauge. these kids would make fun of a kid they way she spoke. I finally told them to stop.

    i am sure the coachs new about it cleary they didn't do "anything" i said somethign and they stop.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  4. Alex

    I think that Masika needs to 1 quit depending on other people to handle her childrens problem. Handle it with your time, Obama already has enough problems to handle that's y their called city council members and other community programs.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  5. Jeff K

    My 13 year old daughter was bullied so much from Marine View middle school in Huntington Beach, California that we had to move he to another middle school. She was picked on because she had an illness and sexually harassed by male students. Some of the language used was way beyond anything I had ever heard. After the principal found out 2 of the students were only sent home for 1 day. Some of the other students were just brought in and told not to do it again. When the next year of school started many of the same people started in on her again and she couldn't take it. We contacted the principal and moved her to another school. We also found out that 2 other students had been moved for the same problem. I feel that the principal should have removed the other students from the school system and not my daughter, who is much happier in another school.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  6. Dennis

    we keep talking about the victims but not the bullies. bullies are not missguided people; most of them have personnality disorders they are born with...possibly obsessive compulsive personallity disorder (affects 12% of the population. young bullies become adult bullies, usually in a position of power so no one can question them. they feel superior, need to control, have a black or white view, and victims supply a much needed outlet for them. think of Drew Peterson, Barnie Franks, Mel Gibson, etc. We have to help them re-channel into more healthy directions.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  7. Diane Krete

    I live in Chatham, Ontario,Canada and you would be impressed with the anti-bullying program that Community Living with the help of Ron Corristine and Country music artist Crystal Gage have put together. Community Living are individuals with different levels of functions.The Respect Tour is a 50 min. program that through songs and anti-bullying messages is brought into the schools to deliver this important message.It started last April and was such a success that they are doing 25 schools now in October.This is an impressive show and very well-worth seeing.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  8. Taro

    Bullying happens in all countries, cultures, among all races and gender. It often reflects the values of a society. In the US, bullying reflects the struggles of the society and reflects the struggles which continues to plague the US. It also reflects how the US acts in the world stage. The US is considered as a "Bully nation" by most others in the world. I left the US because of my own struggles with living in a country which acts contrary to the values it insists others live by. When you are away from the US, you can see this pitcure more clearly. When I look at all the bullying going on, it saddens, but at the end of the day, these bullies are acting very similar to the way his/her society does. It is the ultimate karma,.which will continue as long as bullies are allowed to act out and the US, unfortunately, is one of the biggest bullies on the block.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:58 am |
  9. Bonnie DePrimio

    My son is going to be 29 years old on October 24th of this year. He was always larger than his classmates and you would think that would have been to his was not! As a mother, I cried many nights as he just "didn't fit in" with the other children and they took advantage of his longing for friendship by bullying and sometimes beating on him. In sixth grade, he was 6 foot 1 inches tall and almost 200 pounds. He was and remains extremely intelligent and his 'hobbies' such as reading and building models in his spare time attributed to his 'differences.' I stood up for my son, accompanying him to many of his activities and even volunteering at the schools he attended, mostly to observe and defend. I became the target of ridicule as the 'overbearing and over-protective mother' but, this was my choice rather than be called to hear tragic and irrepairable news. As my son grew to be 6'9" tall and exceeded all of our expectations in sports and academics, this still was not enough to prevent the 'bullying.' Kids, even parents, would scream out at sporting events that he must be 'stupid' and have failed grades to be that big and still be in school. The challenge for other teams and even teammates was to target the 'big guy' and take him out of the game. I approached any and all who bullied my son, went many times to the principal. He was expected to be super-human by his football coach and however he performed was never good enough. As more and more college coaches approached his high school for recruitment, and the honors rolled in for his academics, his true self was revealed and when all of the 'bullys' wanted to be associated with him as a friend, he reciprocated by accepting them. This was harder for me as I became vindictive and resentful for all of the years he was purposely targeted and hurt physically and emotionally by their ignorance. Most of the people responsible for the 'bullying' turned out to be either criminals or just can't productively exist in adult life. My son sympathizes with these individuals which makes him a much better person for the experiences which got him to where he is. He went on to Clemson University on scholarship, was on the football and rubgy team and received a Masters Degree in Business from the University. He continues to help those less fortunate and has never bullied an individual or hurt someone deliberately. Even the college coaches were frustrated by his unwillingness to get angry on and off the field. However, after years and years of being on the other side and knowing the pain of being 'different' and excluded, fighting to find a true friend, he is the BEST example of how you can overcome bullying without being a bully yourself.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:58 am |
  10. Alicia

    I would tell you Ray if your daughters school told her that go further go to the school board. My son was the 11 year old that was shown on CNN this morning from Bowling Green, Ky...he stood up in front of his school board of education and talked about this...and they have backed him big time. I am very proud of our local school board!

    Tell your daughter to be proud of herself and never stop trying to help these kids...!

    October 15, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  11. Denise

    Dear Kyra,

    I am a 38 year old mother of 4. I cant explain how the stories of bullying just brings me to tears everytime. I am a survior of bullying myself. As well as my now 19 year old daughter, who has always been very tall and skinny for her age. She is 5'9 1/2 and wears a size zero. I remember her as a little girl coming home from school asking me what a dike was and telling me the girls in the locker room pulled her pants down and asked her why she didnt have on boxers. I always told her she was beautiful and that some kids just dont understand when people are different. I would tell her dont worry you being different is going to make you someone one day. My daughter has modeled in national magazines, fashion shows and hair shows. She also is at the top of her class in auto collison repair in college. She just joined the management team at her job after only being there for 6 months.
    Now I am dealing with my son who just turned 10 and is in the 4th grade. He was born premature and has ADHD and ODD. He is of course behind the other children in his class he reads at a second grade level so the kids tend to tease him and of course being as small as he is they try to bully him. But because we teach him that he is no different than any of the other kids, he continues to push himself to do better. He can play the drums from hearing and is working towards becoming a Pastor so he can make a difference in the world. (smile).
    So as you can see I am a strong supporter of the saying IT DOES GET BETTER. Myself and my childeren are living proof.

    P.S. There is alot of focus on the vicitims but I believe that if we can also focus on why bullies do what they do and edcuate them on how they are feeling we would begin to see a change.

    Thanks for listening, Kyra

    October 15, 2010 at 9:10 am |
  12. fred

    Hi Kyra i enjoy watching her show, you do a great job, but i had to stop watching your show because of Carol Costello, i do not watch any show that Costello is on, i have not watched american morning since Costello went on that show, and now if costello is going to be on your show, then i will not be watching, in December of 2005 she was interviewing a doctor about colon cancer, and carol was laughing during the interview, i do not watch anybody who thinks colon cancer is funny, so Kyra if you want me to keep watching her show, then keep Costello off your show.

    October 15, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  13. Maureen Blow

    My grandson's bullying started in kindergarten with his teacher pointing him out and punsihing his behaviour. My grandson is ADHD, which was not diagnoised at that time. Grade one through grade 6 he endured this. My daughter even went so far as to get other mom's of children who were being bullied to sign a petition about the bullying, especially one particular child that terroized everyone at school. I myself went as far as the principal, then the school board, and finally the Ministry of Education with no action.
    My daughter moved far north to Fort Nelson, BC and my grandson did not want to go, so he stayed with me for a year. Because I live in a different area of town he went to a different school that took a stronger position on bullying. My grandson did so much better on dealing with bullying and Nate had the best year academically that he had ever had. He even went so far as to say that some of his teachers were "awesome".
    This year he went north to be with his mother. He is doing so much better in a different school district away from Penticton. His grades are significantly improved, he has many friends. He isn't afraid to go to places in town where other young people congregate. He got a fresh start with no previous social history following him. Mind you, he has also grown about 8 inches in the past year. Even though I miss him, he is doing so much better.
    One time about 3 years ago my grandson said to me "There are two types of people in the world, bullys and kids that get bullied. I'm going to be a bully." How sad. (He never did become a bully thought.)

    October 15, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  14. Christina W.

    I think there is not enough done ,starting in elementary schools, about bullying. We are a military family and my youngest daughter has been the victim of bullies in every school she has gone to. I have always raised my daughter to make sure an adult knows what's going on. The replies she has gotten was no one saw it, don't be a tattletale, or ignore it. Now in middle school she has to wear an ID . She has come home with rope burns on her neck from people pulling it . When the child finally got caught , the friends started in because the kid was in trouble like it was my daughters fault . Just recently, on 2 separate occasions, 3 kids grabbed her threatened to kill her and her family if she didn't do what they wanted her to do and held a knife to her. Enough is enough! How can she ignore that? The school knows of the situation and when I went to try to talk to someone about the fact my daughter is having trouble sleeping and could a counselor talk to her ,The counselor couldn't be bothered to see me. I am seeing first hand how kids might see that suicide may be the only way out.

    October 15, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  15. Tina

    Ms. Bermudez hit the nail on the head if we hold teachers and facilty memebers accountable for the saftey and well being of our children. The next time my child says another student hit him in the face, instead of being told there is nothing she ( the teacher on duty) can do she will make sure it doesn't happen again. I went to my son's school and watched 5 adults monitor over 300 kindergarten students on a playground, more children came to me for help then to them. They were to busy talking to each other. I even witnessed children bulling other children and of course I stopped it, unlike our hired teachers who spent more time gossiping.Don't get me wrong, I love my son's teacher she does an awesome job and is a great teacher. My son loves his teacher. In some areas our school system is far from acceptable. We need to hold them accountable so they continue to strive for excellence not only in our children but in themselves as well. If not they become complacent.

    October 15, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  16. sharen

    I recently retired from Education and I can tell you kids are bullied in school. Administrators are very bad about handling and stopping it, from my perspective. I remember one incident specifically-where I watched my little 3rd gr. special needs boy like a hawk-even on my lunch break-to make sure the bullying wasn't going on. I even pulled each individual kid into my room and personally counseled them to resolve the matter. One day, my little guy had a complete melt-down and as our principal was out of the building-I called his mom, who came up to the school. My principal scolded me and wrote me up because I called the mom. I give up. I'm done with Education.

    October 15, 2010 at 9:33 am |
  17. Barbara Johnson

    Bullying is so hurtful. Children are bullied for many reasons. My daughter was bullied at school because she was overweight(due to medication she was on for a seizure disorder). She didn't feel good about herself and was perceived as an "easy target". After numerous calls and meetings with the assistant principle at the middle school she attended, and nothing resolved the problem, we told the administration that if they didn't do something, we were going to call the police to handle it. Immediately, the problem was taken care of. The bully was suspended and didn't return to the school.

    October 15, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  18. Randy

    I am so glad to finally see a national illumination shed on the subject of bullying.
    As a child I was horribly bullied by a single individual, this followed me from early junior high all the way to graduation from high school. As anyone who has been bullied will tell you, this left quite a psychological scar on me that still haunts me today as a parent of two teenage girls and in my early 40’s.
    Never do I want to hear of another child killing themselves over the self-important and inconsiderate actions of others. I trust this leads to a wave of a more considerate nation. One where we actually have consideration for others, there are actually people with lives outside of your little bubble rude people. Take the time to thank someone for holding a door for you, allow those truckers to change lanes in front of you, measure what you say before you speak to someone. We all would like that to happen to us.
    Thank you CNN for taking valuable time out of your crazy broadcasting schedule to air the voices of us who had no voice before this. I thank you from my heart. Hopefully your actions will lead to a little healthier society.

    October 15, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  19. Ralph Moyer

    Shame on ALL of us for not standing up to these people, I, for one will not tolerate this kind of language and action in my home or in my presence.

    Let's all commit to countering this hate and ignorance by standing up to them and making sure that everyone that they attack with word and fists are also human beings and worthy of respect and love as are all
    who are alike or different.

    Thanks for your excellent piece this morning.

    October 15, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  20. Sherry Grey

    "Hang in there" and "tuff it out"; "better days are coming". These kind of comments, while well intentioned, are no comfort or solution to some kid on the point of suicide.

    Any form of bullying (cyber or otherwise) shoud be considered harrasment, stalking, and persecution. Kids need a place to call that can take action immediately.

    We have these protections offered to adults. Don' t kids deserve and need protection even more?

    Just Asking...

    October 16, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  21. Dorothy Page

    Scholls have not been doing enough. Part of the problem is they need to write and vote on policies as to where their responsibility lies and where the police responsibility begins. The school committee of Mohawk Trail Regional HS, Shelburne Falls Ma 01370 is working on regulations upon which they can act both in school and in the community when bullies continue beyond school hours or location.
    It will include the use of many forms of communication- I want to be sure they add telephones but it seems that the "nusence phone call department of the phone company is responsible there in conjunction with local or state police. All agencies must work together. As a 66 yearold substitute teacher I received call at home near midnight–I could recognize the voice–I had to make three separare State police reports before there was action. That is not good enough! But the school had no law to use.

    October 16, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
  22. Vicky

    Bullying starts at home because parents allow siblings to bully one another.

    October 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  23. Mike Good


    First, thank you for your bold words on this morning's cast to the politicians that have used a very poor choice of words. I have always said, why would someone choose a life that will force them to be persecuted, bullied, and otherwise harassed? The answer is clear, no one would. I am a gay male, I am a leader in my organization, both in my functional role, and I also lead a regional chapter of an associate affinity (diversity) group called LGBT Pride. Like the Texas Councilman said, it will get better, it absolutely does, but the ages of 10-20 are really tough and sometimes makes us question whether we deserve to be here. I would never think that way now, and I would NEVER choose to change to be heterosexuality if, somehow, it became possible, I love who I am and who I will continue to grow to be. LGBT pre-teens, teens and young adults have to be made aware that the hard times of harassment and bullying will be minimized in time, they should never question the sanctity of their life.

    October 18, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  24. Jean, Toronto

    Generally, schools have not done much, if absolutely nothing to prevent bullying to whoever is being bullied. It is high time something is done about that be it in any part of the world.
    It appears bullying was acceptable in bygone years. Today, times have changed and it should no longer be acceptable to bully anyone. It is a form of persecution and harassment. Bullying is not a joke and should not be taken as a joke.
    There are three sectors involved here who should teach against bullying and who should be able to stop the bullying, parents, churches and schools, in that order. All have a responsibility to speak against it and to discipline the children accordingly.
    Parents are the primary educators of their children. They should discipline them accordingly.
    For those who go to church, this could be done from the pulpits as well. Christian adults and children and also those of other religions should have been taught and should know how to conduct themselves appropriately towards others wherever they may be.
    Bullying, if occurring on school premises, should obviously be immediately reported to the school principal or the teachers. If these fail to do anything about it, parents, school authorities and even the children should be sued. This is what I would do if I were a child and am bullied in this day and age. Only then will something drastic be done about it and those who bully others would cease.
    If these were sued, I would not be sorry for the parents or children or shed crocodile tears for the children. Many children are not being properly disciplined and some, none at all. They who are the future adults are in dire need of proper discipline.
    Tough love is required. Tough love is compassionate love.

    October 18, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  25. Kenneth Achterberg

    The sadness and loss of people due to suicide, regardless of reason is a huge loss to society as a whole. Bullying in any form is destructive to the individual, both initiator and victim. Your passion to give the homosexual community comfort and hope was sincere, and I believe they should be given the full protection of our society to avoid bullying and hate crimes, as well as celebrate their contributions to our society. Your strong response to the comment about being "brainwashed" was showing your lack of seeing the strong homosexual lobby that has been preaching the normalcy of their lifestyle. Schools and churches have been pressured to accept as normal their sexuality, when most societies throughout time have found it to be anything but within the "norm", and most religions have found it to be counter to their beliefs. Homosexuality is a "risky behavior" that we are paying for in lost lives and productivity through the Aids scourge as well as the monumental cost of care. This is the same risky behavior that "straights" exhibit in promiscuity. The choice that I want is the choice to tell my kids and grand-kids that there are moral choices, and that promiscuity and homosexuality are not a normal expression of their sexuality...that it is to be expressed between a man and a woman in marriage. These societal norms have been worldwide, and when breached on a national level, have led to the disintegration of many societies. We also have been deemed stone age people back in the sexual revolution in the 60's and 70's, when everyone was supposed to hop into the sack with anyone or two or three they pleased. That did not work out very well either. Are there real moral absolutes or do we all have the ability to pick and choose what is good, bad or ugly for ourselves? We have decided in America, to turn our backs on the unborn, in the interest of "choice", yet if it is my choice to not support the homosexual agenda I am accused of being from the stone age. Please have an expose of the real loss of life, creativity, and relationships when thousands upon thousands succumb to Aids for both homosexual and straights engaging in risky behavior. Probably won't happen real soon. I am sure you have pigeon-holed me as homophobic, and I am here to tell you I am not . Phobia means to fear.... I am homophilic with the love that my faith tells me to express to all of God's people. I work, worship and do life with homosexuals, but will not tell my grand-kids that this is God's plan for their life.

    October 18, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  26. Jimmie Johnson

    When will people realize that eveyone has someone in their family who is Gay. Maybe not your brother or sister, but your cousin or your 2nd cousin, your Aunt or your Uncle. Someone you are related to has experienced being bullied. Just because they were a little different than what America's intollerance calls the "main-stream".

    Bullying is becoming a political issue. Not that politicians want to stop it as much as they want to exploit it. Kyra commented on it in her "What
    The" segment this morning. Republicans want to make it unacceptable to be Gay and try to use religious undertones that it is a choice rather than genetic. It is this type of ignorant rhetoric by
    Republicans that continues to divide America. When Parents condone
    it. This type of political comment it filters over to the children in their
    everyday activities at school on the bus and can determine who they accept as their friends. America can do better by standing up against

    October 18, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  27. Tracey

    I just thought everyone should know that bullying does not just apply to kids and schools. It also happens very much so in the work place.
    I do not have to elaborate on the pain it causes people. Everyone has seen or had a bullying boss at one time or another. It's easier to kick the one who reports to you than to go home and take it out on your wife. I experienced my bullying in the male dominated financial sector.
    I thought that I would take legal action against my bullying boss and I was told by an attorney that unless I was black or
    being sexually harassed there was nothing they could do. I even went to human resources to report him and it made the bullying worse.
    I did some research and found out England has laws against bullying and we may want to explore how they handle it.

    October 20, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  28. Bruce

    Thank you for standing up for these "bullied" kids, and also for the LGBT community of Americans. And, thank you for saying that our "leaders" should be standing up and setting an example by decrying what I believe to be the un-American behavior of bullying, either kids, or for that matter adults, by vicious name calling . Our country was founded by and has always been made up of peoples of every type from all over the world. America – "E PLURIBUS UNUM"! Americans should be enjoying the differences of our diverse cultures, not degrading them. Bigotry against gays, religions, national origins or any other differences has no place in America.

    October 20, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  29. Jerry

    Kyra, it seems that when you mention the word "gay" in any story, it takes the focus off the real story. Bullying must be stopped and that begins in the home. Parents must teach their kids about self esteem and how their actions affects others. As for all of the other issues, America is a democracy. If you live in America you will be insulted. Everyone will not agree with you and everyone feels they have a right to express their opinion in any manner they choose. Look at all of the top rated movies and television shows over the last decade. Sex, violence, and rebellion against authority...adults and teenages alike inhale this form of escapism as if it were a drug. Political correctness and tolerance is the next bandaid for peaceful discourse in America. But it isn't working. I am a Christian and I am against treating anyone, even gay and lesbians, with hatred and contempt. However, this is America and just because I do not support the gay and lesbian lifesyle doesn't mean I'm a bigot...if this is the case anyone who doesn't agree with the views of others are also bigots. Finally, children are special and regardless of the issue, they do not deserve to be targeted for abuse simply because someone has an issue with their sexuality...there are more constructive and healing ways to deal with this issue.

    October 21, 2010 at 9:21 pm |