Diane Kornegay

Diane Kornegay

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, which was initiated by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in 2006 to raise awareness about the devastating and often long-term effects of bullying. Statistics show that one in every five students nationwide reports being bullied at some point during a school year. This is a community-wide issue that must not be ignored or thought of as a rite of passage. The month-long campaign every October aims to unite individuals around the powerful message that bullying should never be a part of childhood.

In our Lake County Schools, we have been sharing anti-bullying messages all month, and on Unity Day – Oct. 20 – we joined schools and organizations around the country in wearing orange to send a universal message that bullying is never acceptable behavior.

October is almost over, but our efforts to prevent bullying are not.

On our district website (lake.k12.fl.us) we share many resources year-round, including a list of signs parents can look for that might indicate a child has been targeted by a bully. 

These include:

• Reluctance to attend school activities.

• Unexplained drop in academic performance.

• Reluctance to walk to or from school.

• Reluctance to discuss school.

• Torn clothing.

• Headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplainable illnesses.

• Changes in sleep patterns.

• Sad or depressed demeanor.

• Loss of interest in activities formerly enjoyed.

Parents who notice such changes can:

• Encourage their child to tell an adult what’s wrong.

• Explain the difference between tattling and telling.

• Encourage a buddy system if the child walks to or from school.

• Turn off any TV program or video game that reinforces the idea of aggression as a way to deal with conflict.

• Ask the school for assistance.

The website also includes a link to the district’s “Bullying or Harassment Reporting Form.” Copies are also available at each school. Complete the form and drop it off at your child’s school to report instances where bullying or harassment are suspected.

We take each report seriously, as we believe every child has the right to feel safe and supported.

We encourage every parent, teacher, administrator, student and Lake County resident to unite with us in delivering the message that bullying has no place in our schools or in our communities. As adults, we can set an example by showing children how to handle conflicts peacefully. We can also speak out and stand up for others who are being victimized.

The theme for this year’s National Bullying Prevention Month is, “Together we can create a world without bullying.” We all have a role to play. Let’s work together to achieve that goal.

Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Triangle News Leader.

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