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Young Student Leads a Movement!

Posted: 11/9/2017

Thirteen-year-old Mai Mishan is committed to creating a world without bullying! In her third year of promoting National Bullying Prevention Month in October, Mai organized two significant events for 2017.

On Saturday, October 21, Mai held a Charity Ride at Soul Cycle in Calabasas, Calif., to raise funds for PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. The studio was vibrant in orange, the signature color of bullying prevention, with orange balloons and graphics and all participants received the official orange “Create a World Without Bullying” shirt. Mai's mother, Michal also promoted the event with online Facebook fundraising; the donations received far exceeded the projected goal.

Mai followed up the fundraiser on Unity Day, October 25, by leading a school-wide coordination of Unity Day events involving every student and teacher at her school of 1200+ students. To promote participation, Mai wrote personal notes to key faculty, sharing why the day is so important. She handed out posters and flyers to display all over the campus. School administration supported Mai’s efforts by sending out a mailer to parents, encouraging their involvement. On the day of the event, EVERYONE on the four campuses wore orange! The principal, Mai and other students spoke at an assembly as well. Students also showed their support by creating links of positive statements on orange paper about how they would unite for kindness, acceptance and inclusion, creating an orange chain around the campus.

As a result of Mai’s influential leadership, Unity Day is now an annual official date on the school calendar. “We so appreciated Mai’s initiative and positive energy in making this happen,” wrote a school administrator.

By: PACER Center Staff

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Cyberbullying Dance

Posted: 10/10/2017

We are more alike than we think

A cyberbullying awareness video illustrating the necessity to end and delete cyberbullying message because “we are all more alike than we think.” The video was produced with the generous permission of incredible musical artist James Paget for use of “The Hero Within.” The short video highlights the story of an athlete who initially cyberbullies a ballet dancer not realizing they are similar athletes, just with different skill sets. This becomes apparent, and the athlete chooses to end and delete the cyberbullying.

Video and discussion questions by Andrew Carroll, The University of South Florida and Lana Heylock, Jacksonville University

Classroom Discussion Questions

  1. What similarities did you notice between the dancer and the athlete?
  2. Describe how athletes and dancers each practice to become good at what they do.
  3. Describe the traditional “uniform” of the dancer and of the basketball player.
  4. Why do you think each sport has its own style of attire?
  5. Do you think that dancers are athletes? Why or why not?
  6. How can you be a better advocate to stop cyber bullying?

Helpful tips, ideas, and conversation starters to foster greater dialogue during classroom discussion

  1. What similarities did you notice between the dancer and the athlete?
    • Has anyone here ever danced? What about played a sport? Can you both tell me about the skills you need to perform?
    • Are you surprised to find out that there are many similarities between the two?
      Similarities include hard work, focus, lots of skills to practice, physical activity, and valuable teamwork. Teamwork examples include: A ballet has a corps de ballet which must work perfectly in unison so that the audience can understand the story, a dance duet must work harmoniously or someone will fall or be dropped, dancers must negotiate the stage so they do not bump into each other. Similarly, a basketball team must know their play and pass the ball correctly, a basketball player must be alert to see how to execute the basket, and basketball players must find their paths on the court between many other bodies in their way. They both consider awesome skills and the use of energy, timing, and space.
  2. Describe how athletes and dancers each practice to become good at what they do.
    • Can an athlete and dancer in the class tell me what they do to warm up and practice?
      They practice A LOT!!! If they do not practice they will not be very good. They have skills that most people do not have naturally. Most athletes practice during a specific season, whereas, a dancer practices all year long. Both professions have rather short terms…professional athletes and professional dancers are usually fairly young…(in their 20’s and 30’s).
  3. Describe the traditional “uniform” of the dancer and of the basketball player.
    • Think about sports and activities you play. What do you wear for that?
    • What about for other sports: football, cycling, swimming, wrestling, baseball, etc?
      There are typical uniforms for dancers and basketball players. Dancers wear specific shoes, such as pointe dance shoes, soft dance shoes, and tap shoes. Basketball athletes wear sneakers. Dancers wear tight clothing, and football players, gymnasts, wrestlers, cyclists, and swimmers wear tight clothing, too. Basketball players wear loose fitted clothing and jerseys.
  4. Why do you think each sport has its own style of attire?
    • Have several students in the class identify a sport/activity they are involved with and explain what they wear and why they wear it.
      Each sport has its own style of attire to help athletes accomplish their skills and goals. Dancers use specific shoes that include pointe shoes for women to appear longer and have the ability to turn effortlessly, soft shoes help spin and feel the ground, tap shoes accentuate rhythms and jazz shoes cushion landings and help with sliding. Basketball athletes need sneakers to help them move swiftly across the court. Their shoes provide important support and cushioning when running and landing from dunking the basket. Dancers wear tight clothing in rehearsal in order to see correct alignment and form. Likewise, football players and gymnasts wear tight clothing so they can move effectively. It would be dangerous to wear baggy clothes that they could trip on or get tangled in. Professional swimmers wear tight Speedos to help them move fast. Basketball players wear loose fitted clothing made of wicking material so they can move freely and have faster drying and cooling in their jerseys. Dancers and athletes have figured out what clothing helps them be the best they can be at what they do.
  5. Do you think that dancers are athletes? Why or why not?
    • Do you think you can do the spins and jumps like you saw the dancer do in the video?
    • What would you need to do in order to do the dance moves?
      Dancers are elite athletes with many skills that involve endurance, coordination, stretch, and strength. Some athletes, execute their plays on the court with the grace, strength, and agility of a dancer. Oftentimes dancers and athletes cross-train. Many dancers work out in the gym with weights and machines and many athletes have been known to take yoga and dance lessons to help their bodies increase coordination and stretch.

      Dancers and athletes are more alike than we previously may have thought. Firstly, they are human with the same feelings and often the same pursuit of excellence. Dancers and athletes should be admired equally. They show us incredible physical feats and help us strive toward setting personal goals of excellence. The world appreciates the storytelling and beauty of dance and the fierce competiveness and spirit of athletics. Our communities are enriched by arts and sports!
  6. How can you be a better advocate to stop cyber bullying?
    • If you’re being cyberbullied, what are things you can do to stop the cyberbullying? What about things that would make the cyberbullying worse?
    • If you see cyberbullying, what are things you can do to help? What would be unhelpful?

Knowledge is power! Stop wrong information, speak up, and support what you know is important in our schools, cities, and country. Be strong, be smart and always be kind.

If you’re being cyberbullied, here are steps you can take to help end it:

  • Know that you do not deserve what is happening
  • Document the hurtful online content – take screen shots of and print hurtful content
  • “Unfriend” or block the person bullying you online
  • Remove/untag yourself from hurtful comments or picture
  • Report the hurtful content to the website where it occurred
  • Tell a trusted adult about what’s happening so you can think through options to end the cyberbullying

If you’re being cyberbullied, doing these things can make the situation worse:

  • Ignore it and hope that it stops - this usually doesn’t work in the long run or fix the problem
  • Avoid the person cyberbullying –you’ll soon see how hard it is to avoid someone who goes to the same school with you
  • Respond aggressively – this can make it look like you’re part of the problem, too

If you see cyberbullying, here are steps you can take to help end it:

  • Do not “like” or forward hurtful online content
  • Report the content to the site where it occurred
  • Send a supportive message to the person being cyberbullied
  • If it feels safe to do, you can also tell the person bullying that what they are doing is not okay.

If you see cyberbullying, doing these things can make the situation worse:

  • “Liking” and forwarding hurtful online content – you’re contributing to the problem too
  • Ask the person being bullied what they did to start the bullying and telling them it’s their fault
    • By: Video and discussion questions by Andrew Carroll, The University of South Florida and Lana Heylock, Jacksonville University

      By: Anonymous

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      Using her story as her power

      Posted: 5/5/2017

      “Take a look at your quirks and your traumas and find your own greatness.”

      Sherry Saturno is a national award-winning social worker and filmmaker, who wrote and produced a short documentary film about what drives professionals to help others titled “Human Investment.” The foundation for much of her work came from her personal experience of being bullied as a child, which she spoke about in a recent TEDx Talk.

      “I was bullied for many years,” Saturno said in an email to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. “I am not ashamed of an experience that happened to me and neither should others be. Our stories and our struggles make us uniquely who we are, but too often, out of shame or fear, we silence the very narrative that is the foundation of our strength.

      “As an adult, I recognize how those years shaped my character,” she continued. “I began to use adversity as motivation, and every time someone told me that I couldn’t accomplish something, that would make me try that much harder. Adversity can be transformed into something beautiful and hardship can create ambition, not just to achieve professional goals, but to chase after your own happiness and build the life that you want for yourself.”

      Sherry was deeply affected by stories she heard about how kids who were experiencing bullying were struggling; she understood how isolating the experience can be. By creating a TEDx Talk and talking openly about bullying, isolation, and rejection, she shares her message about how her experiences shaped her character, her motivation, and how she could help others. “Use rejection as your fuel,” she says. “Your story, the source of your struggle, is your power."

      By: Anonymous

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      University of Northern Iowa creates inclusive dance company

      Posted: 2/13/2017

      ROAR! The United Dance Company is working to create an inclusive dance company for children with disabilities at the University of Northern Iowa. UNI students are paired with K-12 students, both with and without disabilities, and come together every week to dance, improve confidence, and boost self-esteem. Their main emphasis is inclusion.

      “We want people to know that having a disability does not define who you are,” says Bethany Piotter, founder and president of the dance company. “When the kids are all together, they have no idea that some of the other members of the dance group have a disability. There are many people who believe that certain people are not capable of certain things; our group exists to prove them wrong. There is not a soul in our company whose life hasn’t been touched by the amazing kids we work with.”

      In January, the United Dance Company performed at their first University of Northern Iowa basketball game. They danced to the song “Roar” by Katy Perry. According to Piotter, these students and dancers come together for one common purpose: “to spread some pretty amazing love!”

      For information and to view a video of the dance company’s basketball game performance, visit the group’s Facebook page.

      By: Anonymous

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      Taking a stand

      Posted: 11/22/2016

      Bullying is defined as “Unwanted aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” Even though bullying is most common with kids, it happens wherever you go. Bullying is something as simple as telling someone they’re not smart or they’re not good enough to do whatever it is they do. No matter what your saying to them, if it’s unwanted and aggressive, it’s bullying, plain and simple.

      Many people like to say that ‘words hurt only if you let them’, I know that one’s common in my house. When you think about it, it makes sense doesn’t it? A word is only letters of the alphabet put together to make a complete thought. I guarantee you though, if you ask anyone who’s been a target of bullying; whether it’s in person or online, they’ll tell you that’s not the case. They’ll tell you that those hurtful words damage them, and follow them for many years to come. Once those words get inside your brain, they’re always going to be there. The Center of Disease Control quotes that “Students who experience bullying are at an increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression”. That’s why I’m here today, in an attempt to convince you that as a nation, we need to protect these kids from further harassment and bullying. It’s time someone thought of the kids here.

      Some of you may be thinking, “How does she know all of this?” I know, cause I had a firsthand experience at what it’s like to be bullied, and to have their hurtful words constantly flood into your mind. That’s right, I was a target of bullying. Let me tell you first hand, it’s a nightmare to deal with. It’s a nightmare to go through the day, constantly wondering if that person’s going to make a hurtful remark against me or if that person is going snicker at me when I walk past them. It’s exhausting to constantly wonder if someone’s going to decide to make fun of me today, solely based on the fact of how I look or what my personality is. I was lucky though, it all ended eventually. I can’t tell you how happy and full of joy I was at the fact that I had no longer had to worry about these people making my life a living nightmare. As much as I hate to say it, it didn’t stop as easily as it should have. It took 5, maybe even 6 times of going to adults and saying that I was being bullied, that they were making me feel worthless every day for them to do something.

      We need to take a stand for people going through this every day. Times are changing all around us, and it’s time we think about students who experience bullying and what they need.

      By: Miranda, student

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      Posted: 11/16/2016

      Believe in yourself and all you want to be. Don’t let what anybody else says or does make you frown. Laugh as much as possible. Let in the good times and get through the bad. Be happy with who you are and where you are.

      By: Anonymous

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      Choose your type

      Posted: 11/7/2016

      When it comes to making a difference in the world, you can be a fire type, a water type, or a gas type.

      Matt Hogan is the Head Instructor at Master Khechen's Martial Arts Academy – Buffalo, and he is the founder of The Only Direction and MoveMe Quotes. He wants to inspire the community to act.

      Excerpt from Matt’s post on The Only Direction:

      In order to avoid a conflict, either verbally or physically, I’ll shut down, close my mouth and try and separate myself from the situation as fast as possible. There have been times when I have chosen to remain silent about things that I believed to be wrong, unjust, or hurtful. I was the bystander; the watcher; the one who becomes the gas for the fire.

      Choose to stand up for what you believe in – be an upstander.

      The answer, of course, is to do your best to always act as an upstander; a person who recognizes that something is wrong and acts to make it right. When you fail to act to make something right in some way, shape, or form – you’re the gas. Intentions and good thoughts don’t count. And the second you choose to be an upstander you change your state from being a gas to becoming water. Just like that.

      Learn more about the three key actions we can take to become rock solid upstanders.

      By: Anonymous

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      Mom, music teacher creates bullying prevention song

      Posted: 11/1/2016

      “Stop That! A Bullying Prevention Anthem” was written by Annie Lynn and Chris Arms as a response to bullying experienced by Chris’ daughter and Annie’s son Alex and his friends nine years ago. Alex was just 11 years old with Asperger’s when he was the target of bullying. But when the boy who bullied Alex began targeting an 8-year-old boy with autism on the school bus, Alex turned around and told the boy, “Stop it!”

      During this time, Annie had been attending workshops about best practices in bullying prevention, and was using the online resources available from PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. “I had so many talking points stuck in my head, and so much frustration and sadness for my child and all the others who were being bullied,” Annie said. “I ended up writing a few songs about bullying prevention and tolerance and acceptance. Most of my songs have the word ‘kindness’ in them because, to me, success anywhere starts with kindness. It’ll beat negativity every time.”

      Annie, who was working as a volunteer with the music teacher in her son’s school district, gathered a group of other children who had been bullied, including Alex, and recorded “Stop That! A Bullying Prevention Anthem.” Annie has received positive responses to the song from around the world, demonstrating the fact that bullying is a global issue. She and Chris have now made the song available to PACER. “I want to be a part of the important work PACER has been and is doing,” Annie said. “I have followed PACER and its advice for years and years, in distant admiration.” She also noted that Alex is now a sophomore in college and is “doing well.”

      By: Annie

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      Inspiration Through Music

      Posted: 10/28/2016

      This music immediately spoke to me and I knew instantly what the song would be about. I wrote the song in 20 minutes. It was obvious to me this upbeat track would be about my experience growing up feeling like a misfit and being bullied.

      All through my school years, I felt very different given my height (I’m a little over 6’1” today) and my blond hair. We’re talking about a town where a petite brunette with curly locks and a bit of a tan is more the norm. As years went on, I didn’t know how to navigate the nastiness thrown at me so I shut down and didn’t rebel nor voice my uneasiness. I didn’t know how to be like everyone else. I realize now of course, it’s a good thing, to be different. But back then, it tore me apart, or at least I let it tear me apart. If my story and my song can give just a little bit of hope to a kid in despair, I would be the proudest person on Earth.

      By: MarieLine

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      On a Mission to Stop Bullying

      Posted: 10/26/2016

      I was bullied in elementary school because I was short and different. Kids would tease me, call me names, and spread rumors about me. I told the teachers what was going on but nothing was being done and the bullying just got worse. I started to come home from school crying and sometimes I would be crying when my parents dropped me off at school. So, I told my parents what was going on, they did something about it, and things got better for me. I want people to know that they're not alone and that things will get better and that they should never keep bullying a secret. No one deserves to be bullied. After experiencing being bullied I am taking a stand against bullying. I am on a mission to stop bullying.

      By: Morgan

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