October is an important month – it is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. While it is encouraging to see communities take a stand against bullying and to make people aware of the issue, the unfortunate reality is that one out of every four students report being bullied during the school year. And while this isn’t an issue that affects only children with disabilities, studies show that these children are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers. Being bullied may also lead to problems later in life; children who experience bullying are at increased risk for anxiety, depression, and other mental and behavioral health issues. (Source)
There is no doubt that these statistics are upsetting; however, there is much that we can do to bring an end to bullying!
In your community, consider planning or taking part in an event that celebrates Unity Day. Held this year on Wednesday, October 19th, Unity Day is a chance for communities to stand united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion. Participants wear orange as a way of visually demonstrating solidarity. You may also choose to hold a local walk or run in your town. This is a wonderful, family-friendly way to show your community’s commitment to keeping students safe while at school, in the community, and on-line. The event can be accompanied by pre-and post- activities such as games for kids, speakers, music, prizes and dance.
Both at home as well as at school, you may decide to share some resources with your children to help them understand what they can do if they see bullying occur. There are a number of wonderful resources online – here are just a few to choose from!
- “You Are Not Alone” Toolkit http://www.pacer.org/bullying/yourenotalone/event-toolkit.asp
- gov offers a series of fantastic cartoon videos designed for children to learn about bullying: https://www.stopbullying.gov/kids/webisodes/
- “Project Connect” http://www.pacer.org/bullying/classroom/schoolwide/project-connect.asp
- Safe Schools’ Bullying Prevention Toolkits http://www.safeschools.info/bp-toolkit-guides
At the Elizabeth Lee Black School, teachers do a wonderful job of incorporating anti-bullying lessons into their plans during October. Students also participate in a state-wide Anti-Bullying Poster contest. This year, three of our students were the lucky recipients of the first, second and third place awards for their posters! They are on display in the Rotunda room at Capitol Hill!