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Author talks with children about bullies

Like most kids, Hannah Borgerson has seen her share of — bullying done to fellow students and herself.

"It's no fun to be bullied," said Borgerson, in third — grade at Helman Elementary School. "It's mean, I've been bullied a bit — because I have long legs, but I just tell them I like my long legs, and — I just walk off and pretend they're not there."

The issue of bullying is being brought to the forefront — in Ashland this week with a visit from Trudy Ludwig, a Portland children's — author who has written a book on verbal and psychological bullying involving — two young girls, entitled "My Secret Bully." The book was published in — February by RiverWood Books of Ashland, an imprint of White Cloud Press, — and has been touted nationwide, including being profiled on "Good Morning — America."

Ludwig is visiting all four Ashland elementary schools, — as well as giving a talk on bullying for parents Thursday evening.

On Tuesday, she spent the day talking to students at Helman — Elementary about bullying and how they can make a difference to try to — stop it.

Standing in front of a group of fifth-graders, Ludwig — held a large paper cut-out of a person, who represented the main character — of her book, as well as everyone in the room.

She asked the children to yell out some of the painful — things the bully in the book did, each time crunching the paper doll until — she was just holding a crumbled ball of paper.

"See, she got crushed by her friends," Ludwig said.

But, she explained, with help and support from her mother, — she learned how to deal with the bully and "she was able to build herself — up again, although she's still wrinkly," Ludwig said as she held up the — paper doll.

Like scars from cutting yourself or falling down, the — scars from being bullied linger on, she said.

"It's a memory that will stay with us," Ludwig said. "We — carry that memory with us, and it affects us."

"My Secret Bully" is about a young girl, Monica, who is — bullied by her friend Katie, who does things such as name-calling, humiliation — and exclusion. With the help of her mother, Monica learns how to cope, — survive and thrive.

Helman Principal Barbara Fields said bullying is an issue — her school has been combating for years.

This includes having conflict resolution seminars for — faculty and staff and offering parent training meetings. Staff also carefully — watch for signs of bully behavior on the playground and in the classroom.

"You can never learn enough," Fields said. "You can see — people get put down each night on prime time television. It's a societal — problem that happens at school and needs to be dealt with."

Having a book that speaks directly to children on bullying — is invaluable, Fields said.

"It's something they need to know and understand to stop — the cycle," she said. "If not, it can continue and easily get worse."

Angie Spellitch, 8, said she was glad Ludwig came and — read her book to the school.

"It was sad because I didn't like how that one girl was — treating her friend," she said. "It's important for kids to learn not — to be bullies because kids don't like to be picked on."

Ludwig also taught the students a variation on a famous — saying, telling them "sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will — break my heart."

She emphasized to students the importance of telling an — authority figure if they see bullying done that hurts someone, and taught — them the difference between tattling and reporting.

"I want to empower the kids," Ludwig said. "They are very — open and they wear their hearts on their sleeves. It's important to give — kids skills to cope. ... This is an epidemic in our schools. It's a learned — behavior, and we have to unlearn it and break the cycle."

Ludwig, a freelance marketing writer, was inspired by — the experiences of her daughter, Allie Long, now 10, who was picked on — by a group of six girls she considered her friends during the first week — of second grade.

Allie was bullied by the group when she told them she — didn't want to hear what she thought was malicious gossip about a fellow — student. They chased after her and eventually penned her on a piece of — playground equipment before one of the girls went to a teacher for help.