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As a public school teacher of three years, having a passion for social justice and human rights, raising awareness and supporting efforts to combat bullying are incredibly important to me.  One of the reasons I joined a national public service program that helped me gain my license to teach in a public high school, was because I experienced bullying in elementary and middle school, and wanted to provide support and compassion to other victims of bullying.  From my personal experience as a student and through my observations and conversations with students surrounding bullying, I've recognized how prevalent bullying is and how important it is that we address it.  

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This past October was National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.  You don’t have to be in school or working in education to make a difference, since bullying isn’t confined to a school environment. Bullying can take a new form as harassment in the workplace.  If you've ever been a victim of bullying or harassment, then you know how hurtful and damaging it can be, even in your adult years.  Even if you haven’t been a victim of bullying, let this awareness remind you of how bullying often results in long-lasting effects; it's dangerous and victims deserve advocacy and prevention efforts.

When I taught high school, I unfortunately saw and spoke with students who did not take the impact of bullying seriously.  If anything, bullying awareness should inspire more serious, thoughtful, and sobering conversations surrounding the personal and widespread impact of bullying and what we can do to prevent it in schools across the nation.  According to stopbullying.gov, ‘kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues.  Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, loss in activities they used to enjoy, health complaints, and decreased academic achievement.’  These consequences don’t just exist during school years.  Rather, they can impact people for the rest of their lives and take different, even more serious forms.

Create safe, empowering, and productive partnerships and raise bullying awareness and prevention efforts in your local school district.

Since its founding almost a decade ago, 'Bullying Prevention Awareness Month was initiated by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in October 2006.  PACER recognized that students, parents, and people around the world need to become more aware of the serious consequences of bullying.'  So what can you do?  Become familiar with the issue and consequences of bullying in your community.  Start by researching the issue of bullying, how it’s reported in your local school district, and how pervasive it is.  Once you are more familiar with how it impacts your local community, try collaborating with coworkers/school employees and leveraging local resources to create safe, empowering, and productive partnerships and raise bullying awareness and prevention efforts in your local school district.  Once you’ve developed partnerships and have familiarized yourself with the impact of bullying on your community, think about possible awareness events and advocacy efforts you can host or get involved with  to bring light to this issue.  Maybe you’d like to create a mentorship program at a local elementary school, launch a social media advocacy campaign with your local school district, volunteer with national organizations like Big Brothers or Big Sisters Association, host a relevant guest speaker at a local community venue, or hold a march or walk/run to raise money for a relevant organization.  Whatever positive, sustainable, and thoughtful efforts you can put forward during this month and beyond will make a difference in your community and beyond.

 

 

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