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'Dr. Phil' tackles cyberbullying

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Dr. Phil: Let's tame the "Wild, Wild Web"
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw speaks to congressional committee about cyberbullying
  • McGraw: 42 percent of kids say they have been bullied on the internet
  • McGraw wants language added to education bill to address cyberbullying
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(CNN) -- Talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw tackled the subject of cyberbullying on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

"It is so out of control," said McGraw.

McGraw spoke during a House Education subcommittee hearing examining safety concerns for children and teens using the internet, social networking and other technology.

McGraw told the subcommittee that kids who are cyberbullied are 1.9 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.

"I get tens of thousands of letters at 'The Dr. Phil Show' of kids asking for help about this," said McGraw. "It is a serious crisis -- 42 percent of kids say they have been bullied on the internet, 35 percent of kids say they have been threatened."

Cyberbullying has increasingly been in the public eye as high-profile cases surface in the media and the courts.

In March, nine Massachusetts teenagers were charged with involvement in a months-long campaign of bullying that prosecutors say led to the suicide of a 15-year-old girl.

McGraw said children often do not talk to their parents about the issue, because they feel ashamed and embarrassed about it.

"We have to give educators, administrators and parents the tools that they need to prevent this and to intervene once it happens," said McGraw. "I really hope we add language to address cyberbullying to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, because we can raise awareness and give teachers the tools they need to tackle this problem."

The talk show host said he believes discussing cyberbullying is overdue within schools and American families and that he does not think enough adults are literate about what children are discussing on the internet.

"We need to know who is talking to our children and who our children are talking with," he said.

Safety experts and other witnesses are also speaking to the congressional committee about the issue.

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