Heartbreaking stories about bullying seem to make the headlines often.
The most recent story came out of southern Wisconsin.
Police say a teen doused himself with gasoline and wanted to hurt himself because he was being bullied.
But things don’t have to go that far.
In our series “Bullies Beware” we’re taking a closer look at the problem, and how it could be affecting your children.
Here’s the story of one Wausau teen who knows how devastating bullying can be:
“I knew my son was coming home and I knew he was upset but I guess I didn't understand the exact torment that was taking place."
That’s when Crystal Fisher started asking her 12-year old son Quentin questions, and a lot of them.
She learned that her son was being bullied.
“The bully thing has been going on since elementary," says Quentin Fisher.
The bullying has continued through to 7th grade.
"He's been bullied several times. Taunting, teasing, other children have written notes and put notes on his desk at school that have upset him."
"They make fun of me for reading, never going in the gym, basically being a nerd."
He says most of the bullying against him has been verbal. But there have been times he was pushed, or had other kids cut in front of him in lines.
All the little things started to add up, and become too much.
“I think oh my God do I have to do this," says Quentin, “It’s almost Friday, almost Friday almost the weekend, gotta get through it."
And his mom says there was a point he even started targeting other students, teasing and taunting them because of what was happening to him.
“His response was mom I just can’t take it anymore. That was a big red flag to me."
Another red flag was when some of the teasing turned into what she thought were threats against her son.
That’s when she contacted Quentin’s school.
The staff at Horace Mann addressed the issue, and gave him different tools to help manage the situation.
Quentin says, "It's good to know that I have emotional support to lean back on."
Crystal told us "We're trying to explain to him that it’s important for him to stop, take a deep breath, talk to an adult, not internalize everything, trying to give him a voice."
She says communication is the key to making sure your children don’t have to go through something alone, and stresses the importance of listening to your kids and observing what goes on around them.
She and Quentin agree you should never be afraid to speak up.
"If it’s something minor, find a way to deal with it. If it’s something major tell a parent or friend or something,” he says.
"I think children need to know that you are not tattling if you are sharing how you feel, whether you are being picked on, whether you are the person picking either way, it goes both ways, because the person who is being the bully is suffering just as much as the victim that's being bullied."
Crystal says in her case, once everyone learned how to communicate, it seemed the bullying stopped.
“My son is actually friends with the kid that had bullied him, so that's turned out be a nice thing."
And Quentin no longer has to question why someone would choose to be a bully.
"I mean what's the point in torturing kids? I mean what you get out of it? I mean at least nerds get to be scientists and stuff."
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