How girls and boys bully

Tammy Peterson discusses how her daughter, Grace (left), was bullied at middle school. (KATU Photo)

Grace Peterson will be in high school next year and happy to leave Lake Oswego Junior High School.

"They wrote in my social studies binder, 'Go die' and 'You don't deserve to be here,'" the 14-year-old told KATU.

Grace was bullied, and it got physical.

"They pushed me in the hallways and threw me on the floor," she said.

Research shows 1 in 5 kids are bullied. For girls it's nearly 1 in 4.

"Keep in mind the context of bullying. One person has more power over somebody else. That always has to be present for it to be bullying," said Dr. Ajit Jetmalani, who heads up the Child and Adolescent Psychology Department at Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

There're three kinds of bullying: Physical, verbal and social bullying. Experts say girls tend to excel at social bullying as Grace will tell you.

"I felt alone and detached from everything - an outsider, like a third wheel," she said.

Grace's mother, Tammy, says she was disappointed by the response she got from the Lake Oswego School District, so now her daughter is going to West Linn.

District leaders wouldn't specifically talk about Grace Peterson's case but said, in general, they're working on fostering a very positive environment across the district to combat bullying.

Experts say to watch for changes in your child's behavior. Tammy says she was in tune with Grace and still missed it.

"I think you have to be blunt about it - 'is anyone bothering you at school?' The more specific you are, the less wiggle room they have," Tammy said. "You have to know before. You can't know after; there are so many kids that die from this."

Grace says in retrospect, she knows she's one of the lucky ones.

"I'm not going to stand for it," she said. "I'm just not going to let it get to me like it did."

Experts say any child is at risk of being bullied. But they say to pay especially close attention to children who are quiet, shy or who are hyperactive. Often times those children are misunderstood.

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