LIMA— Student bullying is an ever-increasing problem that needs to be tackled by as many parties as possible, officials said Thursday at an anti-bullying event in The Lima Mall’s center court.
The Bully Busters event educated participants on the types of bullies, how they develop their habits of bullying and ways to curb or prevent bullying from continuing into the future. Donna Dickman, executive director of the Partnership for Violence Free Families, said bullying is a very powerful topic.
“People hear the word 'bullying' and know what it means, but they don’t really understand how it works,” Dickman said. “As it continues to grow, schools are becoming more responsible for investigating bullying incidences while it is still the parents’ job to know when something wrong is happening to their child.”
Each month, the mall hosts a speaking engagement on different topics affecting our community. The anti-bullying event also coincides with National Youth Violence Prevention Week, which seeks to promote anti-bullying messages among the children in our country.
Theresa Morocco, director of marketing and business development at The Lima Mall, said the event sent a great message to the youth in our nation today.
“We highly encouraged families to bring their children to this event,” Morocco said. “Bullying is such an important and timely topic, and this event will allow parents an opportunity to openly speak to their children about the issue.”
Among the greater issues facing bullying is the amount of awareness in the general population. According to statistics, 77 percent of students in the U.S. are bullied mentally, verbally or physically, and they will continue to suffer until more people take a stand.
Randy Buss, marketing manager at St. Rita’s Hospital, said the first step in solving the bully epidemic is putting it on the forefront of people’s minds.
“Bullying is a type of health violence that is of great concern to those who are being abused,” Buss said. “We want people to be more aware of the different avenues of bullying and to contact doctors or health officials when they sense a child is being bullied.”
The new face of bullying
Today's children are being bullied for myriad reasons. Bullies have expanded their targets to students who are perceived as homosexuals. This bullying tactic contributes to daily deaths, mostly suicide by those can't bear the anguish of being harassed for their sexual orientation.
Internet and social media have created new windows for bullying. MySpace, Facebook and Twitter are all part of what is known as cyber-bullying, the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.
Statistics show 70 percent of students report seeing bullying online, and only one in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse. Dickman said the public needs to make a concerned effort to slow down online bullying and allow children to realize talking about these issues is not a reason for shame.
“Cyber-bullying is evolving into a new frontier for bullies to operate and they need to be stopped,” Dickman said. “Kids today show signs of having trouble verbalizing their problems and need to be aware and comfortable speaking about their issues, no matter how big or small.”