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My family in Missoula has pulled our third-grader from a local school because of bullying. This is unacceptable. One would expect a school to have a better handle on this sort of thing. I can't begin to say how very disappointed I am regarding this matter.

I was sitting at the Southgate Mall last week and a freshman boy from one of the area high schools started talking to me. Eventually I asked him how his first day back at school went. He hung his head and started to speak quietly about how the bullies from the past school year targeted him again on his first day back.

We always think this kind of thing happens to someone else's kid. Maybe we even have personal prejudices about the "type" of kid this happens to be or the kind of family he or the bully came from. I am telling you, it could happen to your beloved child.

Bullying can happen to any one of your children. It can knock them down so hard and so brutally it can affect them all their lives. Most kids have been teased by a sibling or a friend at some point. And it's not usually harmful when done in a playful, friendly and mutual way. But when teasing becomes hurtful, unkind, and constant, it crosses the line into bullying and needs to stop.

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Bullying is intentional tormenting in physical, verbal or psychological ways. The effects can be serious and affect kids' sense of self-worth and future relationships. In severe cases, bullying has contributed to tragedies, such as school shootings and suicides.

Many states have bullying laws and policies. Find out about the laws in your community. If you have serious concerns about your child's safety, you may need to contact legal authorities.

Debra Moran, Missoula

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