October Brings National Bullying Prevention Month
For the ninth year in a row, the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) has hosted an initiative focused on uniting students and their families to recognize and put an end to bullying of all kinds. Bully tactics in the playground or around the school are well known, but the last decade has shown dramatic changes in the way people interact, opening the door for bullies to find other ways of intimidating and coercing others into doing things they don’t want to do. Bullies intimidate with threats of violence, blackmail or use other forms of emotional harm for a range of reasons from stealing lunch money to pushing others lower down the social ladder.
October is a busy month for awareness initiatives. There are currently 34 initiatives for the month of October including breast cancer awareness, Alzheimer’s disease, Down syndrome and Lupus Awareness. With many conditions to learn about and be considerate of in the month of October, bullying is a subject that a majority of students are aware of but don’t always discuss with others. Bullies often like to corner their victims outside of public view and threat with further retribution if their bullying is ever spoke of. It is important for every victim of bullying, whether they are a child or an adult, to know that speaking out is the right thing to do so that the situation can be addressed and the bullying put to a stop.
Bullies use mind tricks to exert control over their victims. They pick on those who are most vulnerable to go along with the problem and less likely to bring attention to the poor behavior. With many children getting access to the Internet with mobile phones and tablets, it has made it easier for bullies to reach their victims from anywhere, while using a number of tricks to disguise their identity or spread rumors that are not true. Bullies that use technology to coerce and intimidate are known as cyberbullies. A child that is a victim of a cyberbully may face relentless attacks every time the use their phone or tablet, and they fear losing the device if they let someone know that they are having a hard time coping with others online. By understanding the ways bullies work, it makes it easier to address the problem and eventually make it go away.
On Wednesday, October 21, PACER students will participate in Unity Day, an assignment elected by PACER administrators as a day to bring awareness to the problems of bullies. Students will wear orange shirts in solidarity against bullying and will receive lessons and lectures that promote awareness about the subject. Schools across the nation will utilize guest speakers to share their experiences and will be offered support for times that they feel that they have been picked on or bullied. By spreading awareness about intimidation tactics and forcible coercion, PACER aims to put an end to bullying, both online and physically.
Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying
In addition to Unity Day, PACER will also host a number of events across the country celebrating bullying awareness in communities nationwide. The Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying rallies will be held in public venues, and events will host competitions, local music, food and guest speakers. The rallies will be held in the hope of bringing awareness outside of the school and to communities where people can meet with each other and develop support groups even outside of the classroom. Attendees will have the opportunity to receive pamphlets and information which they can in turn distribute at other unrelated gatherings and in break rooms at work.
Bullies like to take the path of least resistance. When it comes to intimidating others, bullies do not like to waste time or put themselves at risk when dealing with someone who is uncooperative. By letting others know when someone is being a bully, it defuses the situation by showing the bully that there are people watching who care about the well being of those they have tried to dominate. Friends don’t let friends bully or be bullied, and creating a support network is a powerful tool in fighting against bully behavior. Parents can talk with their teens and let them know that bullies are out there and it is OK to bring the subject up if it arises and that talking about the problem is one of the only ways to make the bullying stop.