Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Identifying, Intervening, Surviving, and Preventing Bullying – A Series: Get Involved to Stop Bullying - How You and Others Can Make a Difference!

As we stated in the last post, our goal in this series was to educate and empower parents, students, school staff, and anyone else interested in stopping bullying. Hopefully some of the resources we gave you in the last post will better educate you and give you some ideas if you want to learn more and do more to fight this social epidemic. But we also thought it might be helpful to give you some examples of how people are getting involved to bring awareness and prevention to their own schools and communities.

Kids are getting involved! On Friday, September 24th, more than 700 fifth graders from nine Miami-Dade area schools took a “Victory Against Violence” pledge led by Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa. The pledge was against violence and bullying at the “Back Without A Bang” Youth Rally Against Violence created by the Do The Right Thing Program. Participants wore “I Took the Pledge” t-shirts and received laminated copies of the pledge. All of the students also signed a giant, 4x8 foot copy of the pledge, which will be sent to Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Law enforcement and education institutions are getting involved! On Saturday, September 15th, Polk County law enforcement agencies teamed up with Polk State College to educate and empower the community on a variety of crime prevention issues, including cyber safety and bullying. The Lakeland Ledger’s Kyle Kennedy stated, “Law enforcement officials highlighted bullying because they said it is considered a public health issue and one of the first forms of violence that many people experience. It can also be a factor in youth suicides.” There was also information on cyberbullying presented in various workshops.  Jay Best, a special agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, taught parents that it’s not easy to limit Internet time for preteens because of the necessity of using computers for homework, but that Internet time brings with it serious dangers. “Facebook in particular can be dangerous when used as a tool for harassment among students, or when youth are careless in giving out personal information and pictures to strangers,” officials said.
And businesses and communities are getting involved as well! On Tuesday, September 18th, Bright House Networks teamed up with Seminole County and News 13 to host a Town Hall meeting. Members of the community, especially teens from Lake Howell High School, attended and discussed methods to stop bullying. Later this fall, Lake Howell High will dedicate an entire month to stopping bullying. If you didn’t make it to that forum, News 13 is planning more “Stop the Bullying” town hall meetings around Central Florida throughout the school year, check their community events page for information.

And on October 27th at 9:00 am, at Lake Francis in downtown Madison, Florida there will be a 5K Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying for the community and all schools including the community college will unite and take a stand against bullying. Businesses, churches and civic organizations in the community will partner to show that no bullying will be tolerated in Madison County.
This is just a very small sample of what people are doing to actively bring awareness to the issue of bullying and to talk about how they and others can stop bullying; however, the important point is that they are doing something. The Bully Project and big, elaborate efforts are important, as are educational programs such as our school curriculum Speak Up Be SafeTM.  It is important that we get our program into every elementary school to teach kids not to bully and prevent bullying before it ever starts.
However, if bullying is already happening or if you're willing to step up, small grassroots efforts in your own school or community are the real projects that will make a difference to the victims, the bystanders and the bullies. One person – you – can make a difference. You can stop bullying; you just have to be willing to get involved!

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