By: Kody Bowden
The month of October is most commonly known for Halloween, fall colors, pumpkin carvings, and spooky movies however there is an increasingly important message being brought to light during this month. Each year the number of bullying incidents reported increases; in study done by dosomething.org , 3.2 million students were reportedly bullied in 2016. Bullying has remained a highly sensitive topic throughout the years, with emphasis on new technology, social media outlets, and younger victims emerging everyday. As a response to this growing problem, national bullying prevention awareness month was created.
In 2006 the non-profit organization PACER (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Education Rights) designated national bullying prevention awareness month to take place in October of each year. The PACER organization extended this prevention awareness from one week to a full month in the hopes that all ages can benefit from learning about the powerful effects of bullying on children and young adults. They believe that through personal interaction and bringing light to this growing problem, in the coming years we will hopefully see a drastic downfall of bullying incidents .
Throughout October, nationwide campaigning events and activities are held to bring awareness to the different types of bullying as well as it’s effects. Some of these long term effects include depression, low self-esteem, suicide risk, and anxiety. One a specific day each year, children across the U.S. are urged to wear a unifying color to show they are united for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. Many schools and communities will host walk-a-thons and runs to help raise awareness and support for the organizations helping to make a difference.
The activities and campaigning events aim to educate students, families, and education professionals on the warning signs and prevention methods associated with bullying situations. Schools across America partner up with PACER and other non-profit organizations, such as STOMP Out Bullying, to tailor classes and seminars for kindergarten through the college level. Classroom activities are posted on the PACER website for all ages and grade levels so that teachers may focus on a specific age group and section.
Here at McPherson College, there is a no-tolerance policy for any kind of bullying or discrimination. McPherson College, as well as surrounding grade schools, actively participates in the activities and programs of this awareness month. One unique way that McPherson College gets involved is through service learning. This month, several student groups will be traveling to a nearby elementary school to give anti-bullying presentations and help educate the children on different aspects of bullying. Teaching these students the warning signs and effects of bullying at a young age is one way to help avoid long term bullying problems in the future. Reaching out to those younger students in the community is a small way to make an important impact.