Death of St. Christine student raises the issue of bullying - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Death of St. Christine student raises the issue of bullying

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

Whether it is online or in a classroom, bullying has become a national epidemic.  The Centers for Disease Control has called it a significant public health problem.

On Monday, that problem hit home in Youngstown.

A family is devastated and a Catholic school community is in shock after a student took her own life the day before the start of the new school year.

The girl's father told police that his daughter was anxious and depressed because of bullying by classmates at school.

Instead of the anticipated excitement of re-uniting for the first day of school, St. Christine was closed on Tuesday.

The Youngstown Catholic Diocese announced that it had received the news with deep sadness and was providing grief counselors at the school.

"Anytime one of our students is hurt, we all hurt," said Msgr. John Zuraw, of the Youngstown Diocese.  "We extend our deepest sympathy and our prayers of support to the child's family and  to the entire family of St. Christine. Everyone has been traumatized by this tragic event."
 
It's not known if the bullying played a role in the death of the child, but it is a nationally recognized problem.

Msgr. Zuraw says in-services about bullying are held every year for school administrators and faculty who then carry the message to students.

"They are about how to treat one another with the respect and the dignity that is due to your fellow classmates," said Zuraw.   

Child Psychologist Dr. David Chiarella said students can also be instructed on how to be active by-standers.

"Active in the sense, that if one person stands up and says, ‘Hey stop that,’ then there are other people who are more likely to join with that person and say ‘Yeah I'm with him, stop that,’" Chiarella said.

Both the doctor and Msgr Zuraw say in today's hi-tech world, cyber-bullying can be 24-7. And one key to identifying and stopping it is having someone to tell.

"You need to say something, you need to speak up, you need to tell somebody," Chiarella said.

"The sad part is when we keep it all bottled up within ourselves and we don't know where to turn or who to turn to,” added Msgr. Zuraw.  

Classes at St. Christine are scheduled to resume on Wednesday.

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