RENO, NV - We are shocked when bullying or its consequences make headlines. It's been the sad trigger for a number of school shootings and youth suicides.
When a cell phone video of middle school students bullying a bus monitor went viral, people from 83 countries worldwide wanted to know what they could do to help.
Those are the incidents we her about. The truth is it is a daily, sad rite of passage for many kids, one that leaves emotional scars that can affect them the rest of their lives.
"They stop coming and they shut down," says Dana Serini, a resource teacher at Esther Bennett Elementary School in Sun Valley.
"We have a rise in suicide rates especially in middle school and high school students, but that can start with bullying at the elementary school level."
Friday kids at this elementary school watched as others acted out bullying scenes on the bus and the schoolyard, incidents some have probably endured or witnessed.
They were learning what they should do when it happens to them or someone else--bring it to someone's attention. The skits seemed to get the message.across.
"We can sit up there and drone on and one and you can see the kids starting to look around, but if they have something to watch that is sending the same message they are more likely to take that message home," says Serini.
Actually the kids up on the stage are key to the anti-bullying effort at Esther Bennett. The sixth graders are all members of the school's safety patrol, student leaders who say they do see bullying, are told about it and act.
"I see it going on all the time," says Luka Murillo who mentors other students at the school who tell him they are bullied repeatedly.
"They feel like they can come to me because I can help."
"They may not be able to take a stand for themselves so they need someone to guide them," adds fellow patrol member Samantha Rendon-Diaz.
Both say bullies may be acting out because of problems elsewhere.
In fact, it's hoped, changing the lives of students here will have impacts on the community at large.
"We wanted to start getting community involvement," says Serini, "and spread the word out to the community because it is a community problem. It's a nationwide problem.