With bullying a common problem with children across the country, increasing awareness of the issue in mid-Missouri is helping to drive the search for solutions.
Christi Roeder is majoring in primary education at the University of Missouri. She said, she is quite familiar with what it feels like to be picked on in grade school.
"I was bullied when I was elementary school. I can tell you it's not fun," Roeder said. "Kids who are bullied have a really hard time with it."
Roeder said that the person who tormented her was also one of her classmates. She described being constantly nervous, never knowing what the bully was going to do next. She said it was a problem she faced day in, day out.
"It made me really sad. But, it really opened up my eyes to the fact that anyone can be bullied," Roeder said. "You don't have to be someone who is socially awkward, or someone who's overweight. Anyone can be bullied for any reason."
Child Psychologist Dr. Robert Kline said the issue of bullying has changed somewhat over the past 20 years.
Kline said a lot of the physical bullying has been supplanted with psychological bullying as schools have cracked down on physical aggression. Kline said more often than not, children use words rather than fists to hurt one another.
According to Dr. Kline, psychological bullying can include spreading rumors, gossip, name-calling, social isolation, or sending mean emails or text tessages.
Kline said for parents, there are some easy ways to identify if their child is being bullied. "They're more whiny sometimes, the teenagers are more aggressive." Kline said. "They slam doors, they get upset, they go in their room more."
For children who are dealing with a bully, Kline said he has a simple but effective solution. He recommends children bring a journal to school and document each incident, then to share that information with parents. That way, there is a record and the family can bring it to the school officials.
Kline says over the past several years, area schools have become more aware of the issues surrounding bullying and more effective at handling students who are affected.
Roeder and her friend Nathan Yaeger are both education majors, both having been on the receiving end of bullying. The say when they become teachers in a few years, they won't forget what that was like.
"If a kid is getting bullied, I want them to be able to trust me as a teacher and as their friend," said Yaeger. "They can come up to me and say Mr. Yaeger, this guy is being really mean to me."
It's with that awareness that the fight against bullying continues.
You can find out more information about bullying awareness and prevention by logging onto http://www.stompoutbullying.org/