Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Educators Push for Bully Free Florida

TALLAHASSEE, FL - October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and Florida educators are being asked to take a pledge to stand up for bullied students.

The National Education Association launched a month long campaign called "Bully Free: It Starts With Me" to bring more awareness to this growing problem.

NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me.
• "BULLY" the Documentary
Kidpower: Bullying - Common Questions
StopBullying.gov: Be More Than a Bystander
Am. Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry: Facts for Families

Some 160,000 students across the nation stay home from school each day because of bullying, says Becky Pringle, NEA secretary-treasurer, adding that the problem needs immediate attention and educators must address more than just the bullies and their targets.

"We also need to focus on the bystanders. What we find to be true is, oftentimes, the bully wants an audience. If we take that away, it does lead to that bullying behavior not being as prevalent."

Florida has an anti-bullying law that requires school districts to adopt an official policy prohibiting bullying and harassment of students and staff on school grounds, at school-sponsored events, and through school computer networks. Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association, says it's important that teachers feel empowered to do something.

"When teachers see bullying, it's a teachable moment and I think that they're able to say that, 'We're all in this together, and trying to isolate someone because they're different is not a good idea.' "

BULLY the documentary

A movie everyone will want to see.

According to one U.S. Department of Education estimate, more than 8 million students ages 12 to 18 reported being victims of bullying at school, a little more than 30 percent of the student population.

The "Bully-Free" program offers resources for parents and educators to help them identify bullying, as well as how to intervene and hw to be an advocate for students. More information is online at the above links.

Links and Photos (courtesy of the NEA) added by the Observer

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