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Press Release

October 6, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         
Contact: Chris Duffy
[email protected]
612-599-7982 (cell)

Bullying Prevention Advocates Call for Social Movement to Address Effects of Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Minneapolis:  More than 160,000 kids miss school every day out of fear of attack or intimidation by other students.  Kids who are bullied are more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders that don’t just go away at the end of the school year.  Doctors say the effects of bullying can last a lifetime.  In some cases, bullying can even lead to suicide. 

“When kids are bullied, they really remember it,” said Dr. Barry Garfinkel, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Center for Developmental Psychopharmacology in Minneapolis.  “It results in this excessive caution and fear they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.  Rather than being excited about life, they are burdened with this anxiety that there are people who will hurt them emotionally and even physically.”

As part of National Bullying Prevention Month in October, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center is encouraging people across the country to take action if they witness an act of bullying.  This is especially important for students.  More than 55 percent of bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes.

“Silence is not an acceptable response to bullying,” said Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, which sponsors National Bullying Prevention Month.  “Adults, students and educators can no longer look away when they see bullying.  People who are bullied need to know they are not alone.”

Bullying doesn’t just happen on the playground.  The prevalence of online communication has dramatically changed the landscape of bullying, as it is now visible to hundreds of friends and followers on social media websites.  More than one in three young people have been victims of cyberbullying.

“Cyberbullying can be exceptionally traumatic because it can be done anonymously and way too many people can witness it,” said Dr. Read Sulik, senior vice president of behavioral health services at Sanford Health in Fargo, N.D.  “Once online, it can have a lasting and devastating impact.”

With so many students affected by bullying, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center wants to help parents understand what they can do if their children are being bullied at school. Parents are encouraged to work with their children, believe what they are saying, be supportive yet patient, educate their children about bullying, and discuss ways to deal with the bullying. Free resources at PACER.org/bullying can help parents do this, including TeensAgainstBullying.org and KidsAgainstBullying.org, websites created specifically for elementary-aged children and teens.

“Accept your children for who they are and get involved in their lives,” suggests Tammy Aaberg, whose son Justin committed suicide after being bullied.  “If you notice signs that they’re acting differently, ask them how things are going at school.  They will probably not want to open up at first, but if you have a feeling in your gut that something is wrong, show them you care by asking questions.”

Visit PACER.org/bullying to learn ways to join the social movement and find resources to help change the culture of bullying this October.

Local Events

About PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center
PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center provides creative and interactive resources that are designed to benefit all students, including students with disabilities.  It offers educators, students, families and individuals the tools they need to address bullying in schools, recreational programs or community organizations.  For more information, visit www.PACER.org/bullying or call 952-838-9000.

About PACER Center
Based in Minnesota, PACER Center is a national parent center serving all youth, with a special emphasis on children with disabilities.  Learn more at PACER.org or call 952-838-9000; 888-248-0822 (national toll free number).  Paula F. Goldberg is the executive director of PACER Center.

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