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Dr. Phil’s bullying series includes local girl’s ordeal

Published: Thu, October 7, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Kristine Gill



A township student and her mother will appear on today’s episode of “Dr. Phil” to address teen bullying.

Toni Genovese said her daughter Dara, 12, has been the subject of relentless bullying while attending Glenwood Middle School.

Phil McGraw is a clinical psychologist whose NBC-TV show has addressed a range of issues since its start in 2002. Such topics have included unhappy marriages, weight loss, raising unruly children and dysfunctional families.

Genovese said the episode was taped in August and will air this week as part of a series on bullying.

Genovese said her daughter has experienced name-calling and death threats from classmates for six years. When things became too intense in parochial school, which Dara attended through fourth grade, she sent her daughter to Glenwood Middle for a fresh start.

“At first, I was thinking things like, ‘Maybe my child is too sensitive; maybe she doesn’t know they’re kidding,’” Genovese said.

When Dara said the same things happened at her new school, Genovese contacted police and school officials.

“I went to the principal, the president of the school board, the superintendent and the police. Then I went to Dr. Phil,” Genovese said. “You can tell by me having to go through all those channels that I never got any help.”

Genovese said the trouble has since spread to the Internet, where Dara has received threatening messages through MySpace, Facebook and instant messaging.

“After I discovered all of this, I took her phone away, I shut the computer down, but that started their [the bullies’] rage,” Genovese said.

Boardman Schools Superintendent Frank Lazzeri said he could not comment on specifics of the Genoveses’ situation.

“It’s inappropriate to discuss any particular one incident,” Lazzeri said. “It’s a violation of students’ rights to comment at all.”

Lazzeri said Boardman schools do address bullying.

“We have a school resource officer here who talks to classes. The topic has been covered with guidance counselors, we have grade-level meetings with the teachers each year, and we have what we refer to as a parent-community engagement committee which looks at nonacademic reasons,” Lazzeri said, adding that the school is developing a bullying program that would address cyber-bullying.

“There’s a number of things we’re doing in the district,” Lazzeri said. “It’s not as if we’re turning a blind eye to it.”

Boardman Police Chief Jack Nichols said cases of bullying are sometimes nebulous.

“Ultimately, we have to deal with what’s a crime and what isn’t,” Nichols said. “There’s an awful lot of unpleasantness out there that doesn’t involve criminal activity.”

This summer, McGraw testified at a hearing about students and the Internet conducted by the government’s Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities. During his testimony, McGraw said he receives tens of thousands of letters from students asking for help dealing with cyber bullies, and he cited several instances in which students committed suicide after being bullied online.


Today’s episode of “Dr. Phil” will air at 4 p.m. on NBC, WFMJ TV 21.

Hourlong episodes run Monday through Friday.

For more episodes or a preview of tonight’s show, visit www.drphil.com

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