Recently, teen sensation Miley Cyrus made a shocking revelation in her upcoming memoir, "Miley Cyrus: Miles To Go:" Her younger days were spent being teased, tortured, and humiliated by school bullies.
In fact the 16-year-old "Hannah Montana" star says she was "friendless, lonely and miserable," and believes she would have been physically harmed if the abuse hadn't stopped.
In her book, Miley writes, "The girls took it beyond normal bullying. These were big, tough girls. I was scrawny and short. They were fully capable of doing me bodily harm."
Miley even says there was an "Anti-Miley Club." She describes one incident: "Three girls strutted up and stood towering over me. My stomach churned. I clutched my grilled cheese sandwich like it was the hand of my best friend. It pretty much was my best friend those days. I was done for. They started cussing me and telling me to get up. I sat there, frozen. I didn't know what to do. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I stood up, still a foot shorter then they were, and said, 'What's your problem? What did I ever do to you?' "
For Miley, the abuse eventually stopped, but for the 30 percent of kids who undergo school bullying each year (stats are fuzzy since many cases go unreported), this type of treatment can lead to depression, even suicide. ParentDish spoke to author and self-esteem expert Jessica Weiner on how to prevent it.What can parents do at home to stop their child from being a victim or raising a bully themselves?
Most bullies are victims at home of emotional, physical or verbal abuse. They often have parents who are manipulative or bully others in their everyday life. Whether it's through snarky comments or talking bad about strangers -- parents of bullies tend to act like bullies. So the kids in school who bully -- while not innocent -- are often modeling behaviour they have learned. Pay attention to how you speak in front of your kid. They are absorbing everything you say, whether you realise it or not.
And although parents can't prevent their kid from being bullied, they can help children understand that bullying is wrong and they don't have to stand for it. Teach kids to stand up for themselves -- and by that I mean walking away and telling a teacher -- as soon as something happens. They may be teased for not fighting back but safety is valiant, not weak.
How would you know your child is being bullied?
Since many kids are too embarrassed to report the abuse, it's important to be observant. Here are some signs: If your child has sudden mood swings, angry outbursts, becomes more secretive, gets upset after spending time online, or lashes out at his siblings, something isn't right. Sure, all these signs can masquerade as "normal kid" emotions but they really aren't. If your kid is always upset about going to school, don't write it off.
Should parents confront the parents of the bully or inform the school -- or does getting involved make the problem worse?
First let your kid try to resolve the issue on its own. Although you may want to scream at the bully's parents, doing so may backfire. Have your kid look his bully in the eye and say something like, "Your teasing really bothers me. Stop it now." Since bullies just want a reaction, your kid will send the message that he's not scared. Another idea is for your child to walk in groups since bullies are often too afraid to pick a fight in public. He can also create a safety code word with his best friend so if either one feels in danger the other goes and gets help. If that doesn't work, then step right in and speak to a teacher. The biggest regret I've had parents tell me is that they didn't do something sooner.
Do schools taking the issue of bullying seriously?
Schools are absolutely aware of this issue. The problem is, bullying isn't just restricted to the schoolyard -- what once was a fight on the playground has now become a cyber war so now our children are being attacked in their bedrooms, in their living rooms, and on their cell phones. Anytime a child is online they can become a victim. That's why parents need to open a dialogue with their kids. Don't ignore it -- the problem is too real for too many children.