SIOUX FALLS, SD -
According to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, at least 10 percent of kids are bullied on a regular basis. And other surveys show that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years.
That can have not only short-term, but long-term effects on children's health.
Ten-year-old Zachary Rench enjoys playing catch with his aunt, but he says some of the people he plays with aren't so nice.
"He's like, 'You can't run fast enough to even get a touchdown,'" Rench said.
Rench's mom says Zachary gets made fun of, partly, because he stutters. And the bullying extends beyond the football field.
"One day he came home from school a couple years ago, and his shoelaces had been tied together on the school bus. Luckily, they were long enough that he could walk ok, but he was in tears because he was embarrassed," mom Trish Ringold said.
"It kind of feels bad," Rench said.
"As a mom, it breaks your heart to know your son is being treated like that at school. That's why I want to bring awareness and education to the parents and get that stopped," Ringold said.
She and Zachary are doing that through a Facebook page called "Say NO! to Bullying." Not only can bullying make a child feel bad, but it can affect his or her health.
"They can have stomach aches, trouble sleeping or sleep too much. They don't want to eat," Sanford Pediatrician Dr. Edward Mailloux said.
Bullying online and in person can not only impact the person being bullied, but also the bully.
"The actual bully has a worse prognosis, truthfully. If a bully continues to do that through school and childhood, they actually do extremely poorly as an adult, going from job to job and having a difficult time adjusting," Mailloux said.
Ringold hopes to not only increase awareness, but also give children a place to vent.
"Maybe get if off your chest. Have that outlet. People can talk and not have the pressures of going to your mom and trying to have your mom fix it," Ringold said.
"My goal is to stand up to bullying. Don't let anyone get hurt," Rench said.
A message this family knows all too well.
Ringold wants to hold a rally to increase awareness about bullying in March at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
If you would like to help sponsor the event, you can contact Ringold through her website.
© 2012 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.