Seminar teaches parents how to handle bullying in light of 12-year-old's suicide

12:04 AM, Sep 13, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida-- The suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick not only affected her family, it sent shock waves through Tampa Bay.

"It broke my heart for that mom."

Holly Sonberg, a mother of three, was so moved by the Sedwick tragedy, she went to St. Anthony's bullying seminar Thursday night.

See also: Sheriff says 12-year-old jumped to her death

"It's something that's very real that's going on all the time and I want to know how to speak to them about it," said Sonberg. 

At the seminar, professionals and parents discussed why bullying happens.

Seminar leader Seamus Allman, a licensed mental health counselor, says it all comes down to a child's frame of mind, and says if a child is being bullied, parents can be the firewall.

"Parents can do much better for their kids when they encourage them to think optimistically thru these issues and not let them get bogged down and get stuck," says Allman.

In other words, a positive attitude is key, and Allman says children who are bullied can also take comfort in knowing they are not sufffering alone.

"Bullies sometimes struggle just as much as those who are bullied," said Allman.

Allman explains bullies are a product of their environment. In many cases, their parents bully them, or may be bullied by an older sibling. Either way, bullying is a cry for attention.

For parents of bullied children, Allman says drive home this point.

"We will get through this. I will get thru this."

Clearly being a parent in 2013 is difficult, but you do have resources and places to get information. Log onto, a national website, or visit a site for a local resource,

Site like these teach parents how to talk to children if they are being bullied, or if they are bullying others.

Follow 10 News Reporter Charles Billi on twitter @Charles Billi

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