Zero Tolerance for Bullies

Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs in the world! As my wife and I try to instill good values in our beautiful children, we always wonder if we are doing a good job. I guess we can only hope and see what happens as they get older. But is that good enough? Can we seriously evaluate their characters? One possible way to do that is to see how they behave in school and among their friends. Social interaction tells us a lot about a person's character.

Every parent thinks that their generation has the most difficult task at hand — they say, look at the world around us: drugs, crime, sex, terrorism, etc. Many adults believe their parents did not have the same issues to deal with when they were raising their families. Look, parenting has always been difficult and challenging. I am sure many of you remember your adolescent years and how your parents tried to do their best in setting examples. Hey, for some of us it worked. Hormones and all! But there was one stage of growing up that one has to face alone: Going to school. This is a laboratory of human interaction, where one enhances his or her social skills. For a grand majority of children the experience is very positive but for others, well...

I remember my first encounter with a school bully; it was not easy. I was frightened and confused. He wanted my new notebook or else. When I got home that afternoon my mother asked me where it was and I told her I lost it. What a bad excuse. She was not happy with me, but that did not bother me as much as facing the bully the next morning. After several days of constant harassment I finally spoke with my parents and they helped me with the situation. They went straight to my teacher and took care of the situation.

Children exposed to constant bullying by other children can develop severe stress-inducted ailments. A large number suffer from depression, anxiety and difficulty in coping with schoolwork. Can we stop these bullies? You bet we can. The answer: zero tolerance.

When I see the extreme behavior that some kids show, I get a bit confused. A perfect example: the Florida teenagers that beat a homeless person to death. As I read some of the statements given by family and friends, these boys sounded like angels. How does one go from being a well-adjusted, even-tempered person to beating someone to death? The experts could come up with many clinical explanations. But we can only speculate on what happened with these boys. However, when you read between the lines of what some of those who went to school with them said — "He may have gotten into a couple of fights, like outside school...But nothing like beating up (a homeless person)" — a red flag goes up. I do not want to prejudge, but unless these teens had a temporary bout of insanity or were under the influence of drugs, then one possible differential assessment is that the aggressive behavior had been brewing for a some time.

Bullying is a social relationship where an individual repeatedly picks on someone, either physically or verbally. Peers could make matters worse by being part of an audience, therefore supporting this destructive behavior. Statistics have shown that boys who are bullies in elementary school are more likely to have criminal convictions by the time they are in their 20s. A study in Toronto schools found that a bullying act occurred every seven seconds, but teachers were aware of only four percent of the incidents. Seven out of 10 teachers, but only one in four students say that teachers almost always intervene. Close to 40 percent of victims of bullying say they have not talked to their parents about the problem.

Therefore we must have ZERO TOLERANCE!

• Bullies and their accomplices must be held accountable for their actions and realize that their behavior will not be tolerated.
• Victims need to be heard. Teachers and parents must listen and pay extra close attention.
• Children who are victims of this type of harassment should be encouraged to keep a diary.
• Always, always take bullying seriously. If your child's school does not have any policies in place to help the teachers do their job, then make sure they happen.

Here are some quick notes about this story:

• Two teens have been charged with beating two homeless men in Fort Lauderdale and killing one of them.
• Police believe the teens were also involved in a third attack.
• The teens’ faces were caught on surveillance tape and splashed across the country for three days.
• Thomas Daugherty, 17, and Brian Hooks, 18, both of Plantation, turned themselves in Sunday morning at the Fort Lauderdale police station.
• Since the videotape of one of the beatings hit TV Thursday night, the suspects had little chance of escaping detection.
• Young people who know the two gave statements to police
• Police say the teens beat 45-year-old Norris Gaynor to death — he was attacked in Esplanade Park around 2 a.m. Thursday.
• The teens were also charged with aggravated battery in connection with the 0100 a.m. videotaped attack of Jacques Pierre, 58, who had been sleeping on a bench outside Florida Atlantic University.
• The man being beaten on tape is Jacques Pierre. He survived but is recovering from his wounds.
• In addition, the teens are suspects in the beating of Raymond Perez, 49, authorities said.
• Daughtery's attorney tells judge Steven Deluca the teen should undergo psychological evaluation.
• Hooks' attorney says his clients involvement in the beating is "more limited" than appears on tape.

P.S. Don't forget to watch FOX News Channel. And please feel free to write to me at DRMANNY@FOXNEWS.COM and tell me what you think. Ask a question, share a thought, share a remedy — We'll try to answer all of your mail online or on the air.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit