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Hempstead, NY — From an old-fashioned wedgie to personal attacks on the World Wide Web, bullying is a serious issue.
Twenty-eight percent of students in grades 6 to 12 have experienced bullying and over 70 percent of young people and upwards of 70 percent of school staff have seen bullying at educational institutions, according to stopbulling.gov data, compiled from journalists and other content creators. National data reveals that 62 percent of school staff have witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month; 41 percent witness bullying once a week or more. However, only about 20 to 30 percent of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, an awareness initiative that hits home for Bruce Avery, co-organizer of the Anti-Bullying Conference and general manager of WRHU-FM, Marconi award-winning radio station, which sponsors the campaign with North Shore-LIJ Cohen Children’s Medical Center and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“I was bullied as a kid on a regular basis,” said Avery, who is the producer and co-host of “Tender Talk Tough Topics,” a weekly program on WRHU-FM, which is a forum for topics like bullying in the top market. Avery was able to overcome bullying on his own and now helps others. “One of the things that I made a commitment for throughout my adult life was that I would be a person that was an up-stander, finding ways of empowering people to not necessarily have to empower themselves,” said Avery.
Students, who came from 6 school districts across Long Island, participated in workshops where they discussed how they could cultivate an environment of mutual respect.
“A long time ago, I was bullied by this girl, who I didn’t like,” said Jade, an elementary school student. “She made fun of me for how I look, my braids and because I didn’t have any friends, but because I stood up to her, it hasn’t happened again,” she continued.
Another girl told a story about how her classmate wanted her to kill herself. Others told stories about being cyberbullied, among physical forms of bullying.
“Everyday I see kids with headaches, you name it, but not during weekends,” said Mark Welles, M.D., a pediatrician at North Shore-LIJ Health System and co-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ regional anti-bullying committee. “It’s much worse to suffer in silence. Make sure to tell physicians, counselors, etcetera and most important parents,” said Welles, addressing an auditorium consisting of 250 middle-school students.
Every state plus Washington D.C. has laws, policies or both implemented to handle bullying and cyberbullying cases brought to court.