Thursday, October 14, 2010
How to stop bullying in schools By Dr. Anthony Policastro

There have been several high profile stories in the news recently about young people who committed suicide because of school bullies. Some of these suicides were related to teasing about the student being gay. Some were about the student being foreign and not fitting in. Another was about a student with a learning disability. One suicide involved a girl who was criticized on the Internet. I wrote about this almost two years ago. Here it is in the news again and we have not made great strides since that time. Ellen Degeneres blasted the situation on her television show and there have been outcries from other prominent individuals. Unfortunately, we have all played a role. Like any situation, this one is comprised of many factors. Bullies have been around for years and teens have always teased other teens. What do we need to do now as members of a community who don't want to see the same thing happen here? The first step is something I mentioned in last week's column. It starts with self esteem. One of the top priorities for parents is to make sure their child has a good feeling about themselves. Kids need to build self esteem which is often through the activities parents allow their child to participate in. However, there is more to it than that. A child needs to know that their parents love them and this is usually clear in their actions. You have to walk the walk. Children will know what you really mean no matter what you say. One of the things that I teach parents about discipline is that they need to praise their child for something a minimum of six times a day. I referred to this in a recent column as well. As a rule children with good self esteem are less affected by comments from their peers than those with poor self esteem. This is the place for every parent to start. The next step is for the community to let the schools know that there will be zero tolerance for bullying in schools and this has to be voiced at every opportunity. It needs to be part of the agenda at parent-teacher organization meetings. It needs to be voiced at parent-teacher conferences and to school board members. When parents find out their child is being bullied, they need to let the principal know. Another important piece is for the school to put in place the same zero tolerance that parents ask for. They also need to make sure students know about it and see it in action. Schools need to make sure that any retaliation for a student who reports bullying is dealt with in a harsher manner than the initial bullying. The approach to the bully is to find the right buttons that will make him or her stop. School suspension, which some students want, is not usually the answer. Every child is different and every one of them reacts to different rewards and punishments so all bullies will not respond to the same thing. Therefore, there needs to be a range of choices so that the bully will realize that something he/she does not like is waiting at the other end. The most important step is to make sure the children being bullied are willing to tell someone about it. The old pediatric maxim about bullies is "Talk, Walk and Squawk." Tell the bully you are going to let someone know. Walk away. Squawk to the powers that be. This (or something like it) needs to be taught in every school. Students should be able to recite it back and they should understand what it means. They should know that they need to report it even if they are only observers of the bullying. One word of caution is required. Bullying is in the eye of the beholder. Some children might make accusations when actually bullying is not really taking place. The last point is that parents need to be alert to their child's mental state. Suicide does not occur in a vacuum. There are usually signs that things are not quite right and parents need to be alert to those signs. Bullying is certainly in the news. We need to ask ourselves whether we want to allow it to occur in our community. If the answer is no, then we need to do more than just read an article about it in the newspaper.

Dr. Wingate appointed to commission Michael Wingate, MD, FACS, of Seaford, recently received a three-year appointment as cancer liaison physician for the cancer program at Nanticoke Memorial. These physicians are an integral part of cancer programs accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC). Dr. Wingate is a member of the multidisciplinary cancer committee atNanticoke Memorial. Cancer liaison physicians are responsible for spearheading CoC initiatives within their cancer program; collaborating with agencies, such as the American Cancer Society (ACS); and facilitating quality improvement initiatives utilizing data submitted to the CoC's National Cancer Database. The cancer liaison physician works with the cancer program staff to facilitate the submission, presentation, use and interpretation of NCDB data.Analyzing and sharing these data with the cancer committee can have a positive impact on cancer patient care at the facility.

Stroke Support Group meeting Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Stroke Support Group meeting is Thursday, Oct. 21, 1:30 p.m., at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Mears Rehabilitation, 300 Health Services Dr., Seaford. The support group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families and caregivers. The two-hour support group meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and stroke survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and allow for networking. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 8626.

Mammography Van back on the road The Women's Mobile Health Screening van, newly retrofitted with state-of-the-art digital mammography equipment, was re-dedicated on Oct. 4 at Legislative Hall in Dover.

State Senator Nancy Cook and the Delaware General Assembly sponsored the upgrade. The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) manages and operates the van, which provides free or reduced cost mammograms to eligible uninsured or underinsured women. Digital technology (Hologic Lorad Selenia) replaced x-ray film equipment on the 2002 Airstream Commercial medical vehicle. Digital technology provides greater image resolution, while allowing health providers to access mammograms from any workstation. Digital records are also easier to store. The Delaware Cancer Consortium recommends annual clinical breast exams for all women, with mammograms by age 40, and annual mammograms and clinical breast exams afterwards. Women at greater risk for breast cancer may need earlier and more frequent screenings, and should discuss those options with their doctors. For more information about arranging a screening mammogram, call DBCC at 1-888-672-9647 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Van staff works some Saturdays and early evenings. Women should have a mammography prescription from their doctor and if possible, a copy of their previous mammogram films for comparison. Van staff will help those without a prescription or a primary care provider.

Corn maze Science has shown that exercise, fresh air and a positive attitude are keys to healthy living.You can get all three every weekend in October by having a fun-filled family outing at a one-of-a-kind corn maze presented by the Seaford Historical Society at the Ross Plantation. The maze will be open to the public every Saturday (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m. - 5 p.m.) in October.Admission is $5 over 12 years old and $3 for ages 6 - 12 (must be accompanied by an adult). A free Kiddie Maze is available. Use the main plantation entrance and follow the signs for parking. Added information is available at

Pink Ribbon Tea at Nanticoke On Friday, Oct. 15, at 2:30 p.m., breast cancer survivors are invited to attend an afternoon of fellowship and celebration being put on by the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, the Wellness Community, the American Cancer Society, and Nanticoke Health Services. If you are a breast cancer survivor and wonder how to continue your journey toward wellness, we invite you to attend this special pink ribbon event.A cancer survivor from each group hosting the event will speak briefly about their organization. Light refreshments will be served.Seating is limited, so RSVP by Oct. 8. To register for the tea and for more information, call 629-6611, ext. 2378.

NHS Tribute awards Nanticoke Health Services has announced the recipients of the 6th Annual Nanticoke Tributes for Healthcare Leadership. Nanticoke Tributes awards individuals who have made significant contributions to the provision and improvement of health care in the communities of Western Sussex County. The awards will be presented at a dinner and reception on Thursday, Oct. 28, from 6 to 9 p.m., at Heritage Shores in Bridgeville. The Founders Award will recognize two new inductees, Sister Rosita Alvarez and the Soroptimist International of Seaford.The Charles C. Allen, Jr. Philanthropy Award is being presented to Rex L. Mears who is being recognized for his dedication and commitment to Nanticoke Health Services. The Nanticoke Tribute Awards also recognizes a new inductee into the Nanticoke Physicians Hall of Fame. This year, Louis F. Owen, Jr., MD will be presented with the Hall of Fame Award. Tickets are $100 and may be purchased by calling Nanticoke Health Services Foundation at 629-6611, ext. 8944 or

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. The program is facilitated by Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center professional staff - Terri A. Clifton, MS, NCC, Cancer Care coordinator; Mary Brown, RN, DSN, manager Cancer Care Center; and Wendy Polk, nutritionist - with assistance from Lois Wilkinson, DBCC special projects manager, who helps facilitate the program at Bayhealth. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Cancer Support Group The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a general cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones held at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. The monthly support group meets in the second floor conference room of the Cancer Care center on the third Monday of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The next meeting takes place on Oct. 18 at 4:30 p.m. The Wellness Community, an affiliate of the Cancer Support community, is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. Facilitators are trained mental health professionals with a master's degree or more. Call 645-9150 for information or to register. All support groups offered at the Wellness Community are free of charge. This program is made possible by the support of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.