LANGHORNE, PA — Maya, a junior at a Lower Bucks County high school, says she was made to feel alone, stressed and different at her school.
Then, she joined SPEAK, an after-school program run by The Peace Center, in Langhorne.
“We talk about how it’s OK to be different,” Maya said in comments provided by The Peace Center. To ensure her privacy, her last name and school name were withheld.
“It doesn’t matter who you are – black,white, gay, lesbian, bisexual – we’re all accepted,” she said. “We’re a community. We come together. We feel cared for.”
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. But, at The Peace Center, preventing bullying, and dealing with its consequences, is a year-round affair.
“We all need to be doing something to address bullying,” said Kathia Monard-Weissman, director of the nonprofit’s Bullying Prevention Resource Center.
The bullying center was created in an unprecedented collaboration between The Peace Center, the Bucks County Board of Commissioners, Bucks County’s district attorney and the county’s school districts.
The center offers help to schools, working in some way with all 13 Bucks County school districts. But its services don’t stop there. The center can be called in by police, by community organizations or even by individual families dealing with the impact of bullying.
“We get phone calls from families — they have a child who has been dealing with bullying and they want support for that child,” Monard-Weissman said. “We provide coaching services and see what (children) need help with.
“Principals at school … we meet with students who have been involved in conflict … . We spend time finding out what led them to that, what happened. We try to understand both parties.”
There’s a page on The Peace Center website where anyone can report an instance of bullying.
Bullying By The Numbers
National statistics vary, but an aggregate of 80 different studies on bullying suggests one in five American students between 12 and 18 is bullied at some point during their middle or high school years.
Traditional bullying — name calling, public humiliation, isolation, physical violence and that sort of thing — occurs most often, with 35 percent of kids reporting they’ve been targeted in one of those ways. The studies cited by the PACER Center, which established National Bullying Prevention Month, show that 15 percent of kids surveyed report being cyberbullied.
Among the marquee National Bullying Prevention Month activities is Unity Day, observed on Wednesday, Oct. 24, when everyone is encouraged to wear and show orange to send a message that no child should ever experience bullying.
“Orange provides a powerful, visually compelling expression of solidarity,” Paula Goldberg, the executive director of the PACER Center, said in a statement. “Whether it’s hundreds of individuals at a school wearing orange, store owners offering orange products or a community changing a landmark to orange, the vibrant statement becomes a conversation starter, sending the supportive, universal message that bullying is never acceptable behavior.”
Peace Center Programs
In addition to working with schools, The Peace Center has anti-bullying programs they’ll conduct for other community groups, from PTOs to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to libraries to employers.
Their programs range from ones for children as young as pre-school to ones for college students and adults.
“Bullying doesn’t stop in high school,” Monard-Weissman said. “It continues all the way through our lives.”
Among the center’s programs addressing bullying are:
- EMPOWER: A diversity and anti-bullying program for elementary school students.
- STAR: Stands for “Stop. Think. Ask. Resolve.” An elementary school program focused on “emotional intelligence.”
- “Celebrating Me, Celebrating You”: A program targeting kids in grades 4-5 aimed at building a community and not fearing differences, which can lead to bullying.
- Girls Unlimited: A program geared toward girls in the 7th grade.
- Bullying in the Workplace: According to the Peace Center, 19% of adults report workplace bullying.
For National Bullying Prevention Month, the center is asking local residents to sign an online pledge to work against bullying.
The Peace Center works with Bucks County residents as well as others in communities in Philadelphia and New Jersey. If you’d like to contact the Bullying Prevention Resource Center, you may do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published at Sat, 19 Oct 2019 13:53:20 +0000