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Bullying victims share tales of woe
By Marie Szaniszlo
Boston Herald
Click here to read article.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Young victims of bullying shared their stories yesterday with state officials and lawmakers at a State House forum.

“The source of my strength came from knowing I was not alone,” said Victor Gonzalez, a 19-year-old Bucknell University sophomore from Boston.

In middle school, Gonzalez recalled, he was called a “dirty Mexican” who would never amount to anything.

His teachers told him to ignore it, he said, but when the name-calling escalated to threats and violence, his mother intervened.

Gonzalez was one of four young people featured in Bullying: True Stories, a new film screened at yesterday’s forum, which was co-sponsored by Partners HealthCare and the state.

“Bullying is no longer considered a harmless rite of passage or just a part of growing up,” said Barbara Leadholm, state mental health commissioner. “We must address the issue for what it is — a destructive imbalance of power — and offer support to both the young people who are being bullies and the bullies themselves.”

The issue came under the spotlight last May, when Gov. Deval Patrick signed anti-bullying legislation in the wake of the suicides of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old in South Hadley, and Carl Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old Springfield student.

The 11-month-old law’s provisions include mandates that districts implement an anti-bullying curriculum and training for school staff.

“A safe and positive learning environment is every bit as important as the quality of a teacher,” state Rep. Marty Walz, a Back Bay Democrat and the law’s chief author, told about 500 educators, health-care providers and young people.

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