Stopping bullying in Oklahoma's schools

Wednesday, May 28th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The very popular show Dr Phil seen on the KOTV; channel 6 is lending a helping hand to Tulsa Public Schools.

The News on 6 gave 95 copies of one of Dr Phil’s shows to Tulsa Public Schools Wednesday at the Education Service Center. The topic on the episode was bullying and how parents, students and schools can deal with it.

One of Doctor Phil's guests for the show on bullying is from northeastern Oklahoma. She says bullying drove her son to suicide. She's made it her mission to draw the line between teasing and tormenting.

And she wants Oklahoma schools to do the same. News on 6 anchor Terry Hood has that story.

"Brandon suffered so horribly before he died. The torment of everyday walking into that school." She told her story on Doctor Phil, now Cathy Swartwood is hoping students across Tulsa County will get the message. "This is epidemic it can’t be ignored its not a rite of passage for the perpetrators and it should not be part of growing up for the victims and I am working to try to change that mindset.”

Cathy says life hasn't been the same since her son Brandon committed suicide. She told Doctor Phil that constant bullying drove her son to end his life. “Brandon had so much courage until he lost all hope then he ended his pain.” Now, Cathy is taking her pain and using it to fuel a campaign to stamp out bullying. "I'm hoping educators will understand when they see it to not turn their head to not turn a blind eye towards it." Tulsa Public Schools has worked to try to prevent bullying for three years. Dr Phil’s tape will give them a powerful tool to drive the message home."

Anti bullying trainer for Tulsa Public Schools, Jackie Edwards: "bullying is a learned behavior and the way we approach that is first for that person to identify their behaviors and to work on some ways to change those behaviors and it will help us with that."

Despite how painful it is to relive what happened to her son, Cathy Swartwood says it's worth it. And she thinks reaching out to kids will make a difference. "I think our kids follow us as adults and I think if we set the atmosphere that this won't be tolerated its not ok I think the kids will follow. I honestly do."

Adults are a very important part of this effort. Tulsa Public Schools is not just educating teachers and students. They're airing an anti-bullying program on their Cox Cable network channel that’s meant for parents too.