Fight Bullying with Surgery? TURNING STONEchoice – A Safer Way

The following is an excerpt taken from The Huffington Post regarding the recent suggestion from school officials that a student have breast reduction surgery to fight bullying. Appalling! Even more shocking are the statistics of American teens having surgery to elevate the harassment. We can do better than letting our children risk their lives under the knife to avoid torment. Surgery is such a risky choice, with little or no assurance of a resolution to future problems. Sure, your nose may look “perfect” but is that really the problem? I respect the comments below from Psychologist, Vivian Diller. Additionally, making a choice to have surgery because other people are causing pain is not a self-empowering choice and will not diminish negative feelings. There is a safer way to navigate through adversity. For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
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 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.
Riverview Gardens Superintendent Clive Coleman tells the station the 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.
“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.”

An Adult’s Role in Bullying Situations

The following was an excerpt in an email newsletter issued by a local pediatrician:

  • Bullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, or over the internet.
  • If your child is bullied, help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to look the bully in the eye, stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation, and walk away. Teach your child how to say, in a firm voice, “I don’t like what you are doing”, “Please do not talk to me like that”, or “Why would you say that?” Finally, teach your child when and how to ask for help.
  • Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
  • Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
  • Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child’s safety and well-being when you cannot be there.




Since when did bullying become synonymous with children? The media does an excellent job at shedding light on the bullying epidemic in this country, but it always has to do with an issue in school or on the playground.  Why is this?

There’s no doubt that children are sponges; they observe what is going on around them and internalize it as education. Children are constantly surveying what is happening in society and taking note of how others (especially adults) react to circumstances.

 Adults only come into the picture when they are called upon to fix a situation (or so they think, but this is a subject for another blog entry). As the excerpt above indicates, the parent is instructing the child that they should ignore a bullying situation. But what other choice does the child have?

We should be careful on how we instruct our children to face situations. We need to be cautious about dictating solutions without educating about options. More importantly, we need to consider the root of bullying in the first place.

The TURNING STONEchoice program helps adults become aware of why certain behavior issues come to be. As we help guide parents and educators on this philosophy, let’s keep in mind how we treat each other. Let’s keep a close tabs on news and world events (especially issues in the Middle East). And let us contemplate how this ever-present society is shaping our youth.