October is Bullying Awareness Month. Years ago, when we heard the word bullying, we would most likely think of a big kid beating up on another smaller kid on the playground. Well, that certainly still exists, but we now know that bullying can be psychological and emotional as well. Teenagers' obsession with social media has only accelerated the ways kids can be bullied through cyberbullying.
Bullying is a form of physical or emotional abuse and it can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In 2020, New Jersey Schools reported 7,183 harassment, intimidation, and bullying, or HIB, experiences. Nationally, one out of every five students will experience bullying.
This Wednesday is Unity Day. Since 2011, this campaign unites schools and communities to come together and stand up against bullying. This Wednesday we are encouraged to wear orange for Unity Day to show unity for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion and to send a visible message that no child should ever experience bullying. Not only does orange represent the autumn leaves in October, but orange is also a color that represents safety, as a safety cone.
Founded in 2006, PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center actively leads social change to prevent childhood bullying, so that all youth are safe and supported in their schools, communities, and online. PACER provides innovative resources for students, parents, educators, and others, and recognizes bullying as a serious community issue that impacts education, physical and emotional health, and the safety and well-being of students.
Orange is loud! That is what PACER intends to do - spread the message of unity loudly while keeping our students safe.
Some of their suggestions:
Participate in group art projects such as unity murals, parades, or paint rocks with inspiring messages. Share information and resources through social media. Talk to your family to see if they have ever been the target of bullying. Reach out to your friends to remind them that they have someone to lean on. We never know what someone is going through. One act of kindness can go a long way.