A Moline Acres, Mo., mother is furious with her daughter's school for allegedly suggesting that her sixth grader get a breast reduction to avoid chronic bullying.
Tammie Jackson tells KTVI that her 13-year-old daughter Gabrielle has been harassed by peers since last semester, particularly for her large breasts. When she called the Riverview Gardens School District to complain about the problem, the woman on the other end said the girl could be transferred to another school from Central Middle School, or go under the knife.
"It makes me feel like now you are telling me it's my fault, it's God's fault the way he made her." Jackson told KTVI. "[The school should] talk with the kids, let them know, you know, people's bodies are changing, everybody's body is different but God made us all great."
Riverview Gardens Superintendent Clive Coleman tells the station that officials are investigating the incident, though he suspects it was "a product of miscommunication, interpretation of information." Meanwhile, students are being counseled on ways to resolve the bullying problem.
Avoiding school bullying through surgery is on the rise among American teens. In 2010 alone, nearly 219,000 cosmetic surgeries were performed on teens aged 13 to 19. And among procedures performed on teens, otoplasty is the most popular -- more than 11,000 surgeries were performed in 2011.
Nadia Ilse, a 14-year-old girl from Georgia, made headlines last fall when she accepted a gift from the Little Baby Face Foundation, a charity that provides free corrective surgery to children with deformities. The foundation covered the estimated $40,000 cost of surgery for Nadia's otoplasty -- pinning back her ears, rhinoplasty -- reducing the size of her nose -- and mentoplasty -- altering her chin.
Vivian Diller, a psychologist and author of "Face It," questions whether plastic surgery is the right thing to do in bullying situations. She wrote last July:
A solution to bullying that involves surgical procedures (which have their own set of physical risks that few talk about) is a terrible message to give both bullies and their victims. Do we really think that changing physical features undoes the emotional damage created by being teased? And aren't we validating the very message behind bullies' actions, that diversity and variation is bad? We need to be encouraging young people to admire and embrace differences -- and that starts from an early age.
Most states have laws that require schools to adopt bullying policies, and efforts to combat school bullying have increased over the last decade, according to a report released in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education.
Between 1999 and 2010, more than 120 bills were adopted by state legislatures to introduce or amend legislation that address bullying, harassment or similar behavior in schools. By the time of the Education Department study's conclusion, there were 46 states with enacted anti-bullying laws, 36 with regulations that work against cyberbullying and 13 that give schools the authority to monitor and address bullying behavior even when it occurs off school grounds.