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Education

Wear Orange For Bullying Prevention Month

Now that October is here, most kids are thinking about carving pumpkins and picking out the perfect Halloween costume, but groups like Olweus and PACER are focusing their attention on bullying.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the theme is “The End of Bullying Begins with Me.”

Twenty-five percent of kids are bullied in the U.S., according to the Ambassadors 4 Kids Club, and 77 percent of students are bullied mentally, verbally and physically.

Natalie Melnik, an Olweus Bully Prevention Program Trainer for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, said bullying prevention begins with communication.

“Through role modeling and classroom discussions,” she said, “children feel more comfortable with school staff, and also with their peers to put a stop to the bullying incident as it occurs.”

Similarly, parents concerned their child is being bullied, need to address the issue head on.

“Share these concerns with the child’s teacher,” she said. “And talk with the child and just get a feel for if it’s teasing or is it something perhaps more physical. Try to find out about the child’s school life in general.”

Melnik has visited five Pittsburgh area schools since the start of the academic year to hold anti-bullying information sessions to teachers and students.

The anti-bullying organization PACER is also organizing Unity Day on Oct.9 to help spread to the word on bullying prevention. Those impacted by bulling -- and anyone who wants to see it end -- are asked to wear orange that day as a sign of solidarity.

Melnik said parents, teachers and students need to take a pro-active stance when it comes to bullying.

“It’s not just someone who has been bullied or the bully, but we have the witnesses or bystanders who see these incidences and often times choose not to get involved,” she said. “So if we can get to all students, the bullying does affect everyone at school, we can get them to start reporting as well.”