By Mark Goldberg, California Casualty
I have a terrible admission to make: my daughter was bullied and I failed to recognize it. She is now a freshman in college and has used her experience to write her college admissions essay. While she is succeeding at school and in life, the scars of the insults, name calling and ostracizing still occasionally eat at her confidence and sense of self-worth.
She told me kids had been picking on her back in elementary school. The verbal, occasional physical assaults (pushing, hair pulling, etc.) and false rumors apparently increased in middle school and freshman and sophomore years in high school. I was fairly oblivious because she seemed well adjusted, getting good grades and active in school activities. She has since told me that she felt alone and that my advice that, “these things will pass” and “toughen up” made her feel even more isolated.
If it can happen to us, it can happen to any family. That’s why it is so important that parents, educators and others are aware of National Bullying Month.
October is National Bullying Month. The campaign began with a one week observation and informational campaign in 2006 by the nonprofit PACER Resource Center, created by parents of children and youth with disabilities, to help other parents and families facing similar challenges. Their statistics show more than 13 million American Children are bullied each year – one out of every three students – and bullying significantly impacts the emotional and physical well-being of those involved.
With the explosion of social media, cell phones and portable computers, bullying has been elevated to new levels through “cyber-bullying.”
PACER is encouraging individuals, schools, businesses and organizations around the country to show their support for National Bullying Prevention Month this year, by raising awareness and offering bullying prevention resources.
A highlight every year is Unity Day, where participants are urged to wear orange. The first Unity Day in 2011 was promoted by Ellen DeGeneres, and the day has gone viral via Facebook.
The National Education Association (NEA) is also a major proponent of ending bullying. They cite a report by Joel Haber, Ph.D., and author of Bullyproof Your Child for Life: Protect Your Child from Teasing, Taunting and Bullying for Good, that nearly one out of four children report experiences with bullying and 80 percent of high school students say they witness bullying at least once a week. Eliminating bullying takes the efforts of everybody and as the NEA aptly put it, “Students cannot learn if they are living in fear.”
For more information and resources on National Bullying Prevention Month, visit PACER at http://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/, or learn more about the NEA’s myriad anti-bullying resources at http://www.nea.org/home/42485.htm.
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