Throughout much of the country, October means cooler temperatures, costumes, and candy corn. Most people also associate October with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but there’s another cause that begs to be recognized: National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month. Over the past decade, bullying has gone from “just kids being kids” to finally being a serious issue, and in some cases, a crime. While we have made many great strides in anti-bullying efforts, from new school policies and signed state laws, there is still much to be done.
From Maine to California, schools have become safer places for students of all walks of life, but by taking part in National Anti-Bullying Awareness activities, we are proving to all young people that we truly are behind them and will actively fight to end bullying and harassment. The first step in eliminating this devastating and unnecessary issue is awareness. With the invention of newer technologies and social media dominating the lives of many young people, the lines between healthy communication and unhealthy bullying can be blurred. But thankfully, there are hundreds of resources available to help us to combat and eliminate bullying and the long-lasting and potentially fatal effects it can have.
PACER, the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights, which created the campaign back in 2006, devotes an entire section of its website to National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month and lists some great ideas for how to get schools, parent organizations, and communities involved in standing up and fighting for the safety, health, and wellbeing of all young people. One of their largest events this year is Unity Day, October 10th. On this day, parents, educators, students, and community members wear orange as a show of solidarity: “Make it Orange and Make it End!”
But bullying and harassment happen in more than just the LGBT community. Earlier this week, a news anchor made headlines when she publicly called out a viewer who had made some incredibly rude comments towards her outward appearance. By standing up and making light of the situation, she also touched on the fact that bullying and harassment is no laughing matter and that prevention really does start at home. Parents need to have open lines of communication with their children and teach them that making fun of someone for any reason is not okay.