ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- It leaves many parents feeling helpless, knowing their child could be facing relentless cruelty everyday.
Now there is help. A new letter from the federal government is going out to every school in the nation. It warns school officials they could face civil rights violations if they don't put a stop to it. The letter is from the US Department of Education. All schools, colleges and universities will be getting it shortly. It's just one way leaders are trying to stop bullying in schools.
Some parents are turning to Karate though. That's where the kids are learning discipline and how to fight off bullies. Chyrstal Bradley watches her two young boys work off their aggression. She knows the two of them can gang up on people. "They can bully, especially when you have two of them together. They bully."
Situations like Bradley's is part of the reason Richard Thibault started Family Karate Academy in St. Augustine. "I teach them the basic movements, how to get away from a stranger and how to walk away from a bully."
Bullying has made headlines in recent months, with the suicides of teens from around the country. Phoebe Prince, Asher Brown and Tyler Clementi all killed themselves because of bullies.
Now, the US Department of Education is sending a warning to schools, universities and colleges. It claims bullying can violate federal laws, as well as foster a climate of fear.
The agency says harassment based on race, color, sex or disability that creates a hostile environment and isn't addressed can be in violation of civil rights statutes.
According to research by findyouthinfo.gov, rates of bullying are higher among younger students. Almost 43 percent of 6th graders report having been bullied, compared to about 24 percent of 12th graders.