After decades as an educator, Easton Area School Superintendent John Reinhart has encountered his share of bullies.
Not all of them were children.
"Bullying is a problem for all of us. Reinhart told a group of a few dozen parents and students Thursday night. "It's really not just an issue for kids."
He was speaking at Easton Area Middle School during a forum designed to help kids combat bullying, whether at school, on the bus ride home, or online.
Reinhart and other speakers stressed that bullying doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Parents who exhibit bullying behavior will often have children who grow up to become bullies themselves.
“Sometimes you have to help the bully,” Easton Mayor Sal Panto said. “Because they don’t know any better.”
He also wanted students who were being bullied to know they weren’t alone:
"If you're being bullied in the halls, I'll walk the walls with you," he said. "If you're being bullied on the bus, I'll ride the bus with you."
Lt. John Remaley, of the Easton Police Department, shared some sobering statistics: 160,000 kids each year stay home from school to escape bullies. Another 4,400 try to escape through suicide.
And members of the Center for Humanistic Change offered tips for parents on how to talk to children about bullying, including asking specific questions about their school day.
The forum comes at a time when the school district is trying to take a tougher approach to bullying, Reinhart said.