A group of 64 sixth-graders fell silent when author SuEllen Fried
told the students why she came to their school to talk about
Fried, sitting alone on the auditorium stage at Wilson Middle
School on Tuesday, explained to the students that all it took was one
student who had been teased by other students to change her life.
The student was a recovering cancer patient who told Fried that
she dreaded returning to school after finishing chemotherapy
treatments because other students made fun of her for having lost her
hair, and would pull off her wig and laugh.
"I have never recovered from that conversation," Fried said. "It
occurred to me that if kids could be that cruel, I wanted to know
Fried is presenting a "Bullying Prevention and Intervention:
Saving Our Children's Lives" convention this week for students and
adults. She spoke with students at Wilson and Chamlian Armenian
School on Tuesday morning, then spoke with educators at the YWCA of
Glendale. Her visit is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Medical
Assn. Alliance, the Glendale Sunrise Rotary Club and the
Atwater-Silverlake Rotary Club.
Fried and her daughter, Paula, are co-authors of "Bullies and
Victims: Helping Your Child Through the Schoolyard Battlefield"
(1996) and "Bullies, Targets and Witnesses: Helping Children Break
the Pain Chain" (2003).
Fried's main goal Tuesday was to get students to be more aware of
how to stop bullying by talking about their personal experiences.
She asked the group of Wilson students to define four categories
of bullying -- physical, verbal, emotional and sexual.
Students defined physical bullying as punching, kicking, throwing
someone in a trash can and flicking rubber bands. Verbal bullying
includes name-calling and rumors, students said.
Students said ignoring people or rolling one's eyes at them are
all forms of emotional bullying, and sexual bullying includes any
type of sexual harassment, they said.
Verbal is the most common form of bullying, and sexual bullying is
the form of bullying people most want to avoid, students told Fried.
"Not all people that bully people do it because they don't like
somebody," said Natalie Pempetjian, 11. "It's because they don't have
anyone to talk to or anywhere to vent their anger to, so they turn
their anger onto someone else."
Christel Trink, a third- and fourth-grade teacher at an area
private school, plans to train co-workers on bully prevention based
on what she learns from Fried this week.
"I don't see bullying much, but I think teachers often don't
observe it," Trink said. "I think it's probably a problem in every
school, but maybe we can eliminate the ignorance about it by talking
For information about today's and Thursday's sessions, call event
organizers at 507-0427.