Third-grade twins from Ohio enjoyed brief talk show fame this month with their invention of wedgie-proof underwear, the "Rip Away 1000," meant to guard against schoolyard bullies.
If only fending off bullies were as simple as tear-away boxer shorts.
With bullying in California's schools becoming more dangerous and frequent, the state Legislature last summer dubbed this week Anti-Bullying Week.
Cell phones and Internet networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook have given bullies new avenues to torment their classmates, from posting embarrassing messages online to spreading nasty text messages.
More troubling are the school shootings at high schools and colleges where a common thread was that the shooter had been bullied by his classmates.
"It's one of the biggest issues we have on our campuses," said Vicki Bauman, director of prevention programs for the Stanislaus County Office of Education. "It's where school violence starts."
Middle school girls are most often the culprits behind bullying by Internet, known as cyber-bullying, Bauman said.
"The kids who are less physically aggressive on campus are doing more of the cyber-bullying, because it's not face to face and they get power behind the computer," she said. "You can ruin someone's reputation in a day with cyberbullying."
Administrators from school districts around the county watched a film about cyber-bullying last month called "Adina's Deck" as part of their training on the issue. The film also was screened at the Gallo Center for the Arts late last month.
The most recent statewide survey showed bullying in all forms seems to peak in seventh grade.
In a 2005 study conducted by WestEd, a research group from San Francisco, nearly 40 percent of seventh-graders, 34 percent of ninth-graders and 31 percent of 11th-graders reported being harassed or bullied at least once at school during a 12-month period.
Most of those students reported being harassed because of gender, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
Statewide and in Stanislaus County, about one-tenth of surveyed students reported having been threatened or injured with a weapon.
Among the other statistics reported by 4,300 Stanislaus County seventh-graders surveyed about bullying:
Nearly half reported being pushed or shoved on campus, a higher rate than reported among their peers statewide.
Twenty-eight percent said they were fearful of being beaten up at school.
About one-third had been involved in a physical fight.
Bauman said the key to combating bullying is for teachers to be aware of teasing and bullying in their classrooms and stop it immediately.
"It's the teacher's responsibility to be in control of their classroom," Bauman said.
Because for many students, their worst day at school is no longer as easy to forget as a bunched-up pair of Fruit of the Looms.
To look up bullying rates by school, school district or county, visit WestEd's California Health Kids Survey results at www.wested.org/healthykidssurvey/results.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.