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Reader Applauds the Norwegians for Taking On Bullies

April 16, 2001

I want to thank Rosie Mestel and Martha Groves for their article "When Push Comes to Shove" (April 3) about Norway's program to combat bullying in its schools.

I was bullied incessantly throughout most of my childhood. The experience not only was very painful, but also ruined my self-esteem. It took years of therapy to put this experience behind me and allow me to live a happy life.

Adults just excuse this behavior as "part of growing up" or by saying that this will somehow better prepare us for adult life; this is sheer hogwash, and I have the scars to prove it. It has taken tragic and violent incidents in our schools to finally force us to face this issue. Schools need to protect their students now more than ever. Parents have become uninvolved with their children's daily lives; they may be totally unaware if their children are bullying others or being victimized.

Fortunately, the vast majority of bully victims are not going to turn into killers. Most of us survive the experience, but the lifetime scars are inhumane, unnecessary and totally preventable. Because school administrators and parents seem unwilling to do anything to stop this, perhaps it is time for the government to step in to pass laws and fund preventive programs. Clearly the Norwegians are far more enlightened than we Americans. The only positive outcome of my bullying experience is it has made me resolve to fight to prevent children from going through the same experience.

KATHLEEN WATANABE

Irvine

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