When a child is bullied

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Updated: 2/08/2013 9:16 am Published: 2/07/2013 12:01 am

This week a ninth grade student took his life in Coweta.

A number of his classmates told FOX23 News he was the target of persistent bullying.

Some parents also say they blame the school for allowing it to go on.

However, it is not clear what the school or district actually knew about Triston Stephens.

FOX23 News continues a month-long series “When it Happens to You…” a story that examines the challenge what to do if your child is bullied.

The moment you learn your child is bullied, how you handle it is critically important.

Child advocates say parents need to listen to their child, report the problem and parents have important steps to take after the bullying stops.

"The whole thing was a blur of pain and regret," said Bethany.

She is a 7th grader in Union School District and was attacked by another girl on the school bus last fall.

Clumps of hair were pulled out and the bruises were not on the outside.  

"At first it was a lot of guilt,” said Bethany.

She said leading up to the attack on the bus, the girl threatened to beat her up. She told her father’s parents.

“We thought she was all talk,” said Bethany.

That kind of talk often leads to action. More than a quarter of a million students per year is physically attacked in secondary schools across the U.S. It’s important to take any threat seriously.

Bethany’s maternal grandmother says it’s important to have open communication.

"Put down whatever you are doing and just listen,” said Rhonda Holland.

She encourages parents to listen to their child.

FOX23 News receives calls and messages each week from people, frustrated with schools not doing enough to stop bullying and hold the violators accountable.

"It's frustrating not to know that justice isn't being done. Is the problem being fixed and how is it being handled?,” said Holland. 

Advocates and school counselors recommend you let your child know you want to hear about anything that concerns or worries them. Take good notes and take pictures of any injuries. If it is violent you need to report it to police.

In some cases, the biggest challenge is restoring a child’s sense of security and self-confidence after the bullying has been stopped.

"Kids tend to close up after the situation has already happened and it's really hard as a grandparent or parent on how to reach them,” said Holland.

The threat may be gone but experience can have lasting effects.

"I definitely won't forget it,” said Bethany.

For the teen and with help from her family, the experience has made Bethany stronger and more determined to speak out to protect herself or to protect others.

"If bullying gets to a point to where you are paranoid or you are scared of going somewhere, if it prevents you from living the way you want to live and be who are you, you have to tell someone, you have to tell someone, it's not a choice anymore,” said Bethany.

Green country students continue to create more anti-bullying groups and efforts through social media encouraging students to speak out to protect themselves and their peers.

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