CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It was the Cleveland area story that caught the attention of nationally known author and speaker John Graden; Rachel Gattuso, of Massillon, shared her heart-wrenching story of being bullied as a little girl.
"I was cross-eyed actually. It was like every little thing they could find to pick on me about - I was a little chubby - I got picked on for being chubby and fat," said Gattuso.
Gattuso says years of being pushed around and made fun of, led to her use of drugs in junior high school.
After Gattuso's story aired, Graden, who has appeared on national shows like Dr. Oz, tweeted at Cleveland 19 suggesting parents take a look at his 7-step family plan for bullies.
Graden says the techniques outlined in his book, "Stop Any Bully: A Family Plan for Taking Action," are proven to work.
"Bullying is like a small fire in the corner of your living room. If you don't put it out before it starts, it will consume your whole family," described Graden.
Graden says you need a plan to deal with bullies before there is even a problem. That is what, he says, he did with his own kids.
First, you need to have a family meeting at the beginning of school year, where you lay out expectations and, most importantly, address bullying.
"If you are bullied - whether it is verbal, physical, cyber - you tell us that day. You do not wait, and we will work through it together," said Graden.
Kids, he says, need to know that there are some people out there who will never be your friend and don't care about you.
When you are bullied, document everything - including taking pictures of any injuries and writing down names of anyone who saw what happened, and then do this, according to Graden:
If the situation gets worse, the next step is contacting police.
"We can get a police officer to knock on the door of the bully's family and interview them and discuss the situation - that will get their attention," said Graden.
Graden says the key is to help your child know what they will do if they are bullied, before it even happens.
Graden says his techniques are modeled after those used by law enforcement when they are building a case against a criminal.
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