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Anti-bullying campaign encourages action from bystanders



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SALT LAKE CITY — In the third annual conference on Anti-bullying, advocates are launching a new campaign to prevent both face-to-face and online harassment. The message for young people at a national summit to stop bullying is: "Don't' Be a Bystander."

Incidents of bullying across the nation have continued to rise, and now the White House is backing the new campaign.

"It's going into somebody's heart and you're potentially wounding someone in a way that they're going to remember for a lifetime," said Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama.

The new Anti-bullying campaign is urging those who witness bullying to do something. In Utah, the state office of education is taking a similar message to all the school districts.

Also participating in the Anti-bullying conference in Washington D.C. is Utah native, Steven Wayman. The 17-year-old had been a victim of bullying in the past. "I'd get punched, kicked, black eyes, bruises, and I'd lie to my mom and say it was nothing or that I fell off the slides or I just fell down," Wayman said.

Even celebrities have been victims of bullying prior to their years of fame. Superstar Lady Gaga was another bullying victim. Her mother now helps her run her anti-bullying foundation.

Side Affects of Bully Victims:
  • Lower academic achievement
  • Increased Anxiety
  • Loss of Self Esteem
  • Depression
  • Deterioration in Physical Health
  • Self harm or suicidial thinking
  • Feelings or alienation and fear at school
  • Absenteeism

"[She experience] everything from her locker being defamed at school," said Cynthia Germanotta, Lady Gaga's mother. "She was actually put in a trash can at one point."

And it continues to happen in every Utah school. The districts will all receive training on how to handle and report incidents and help the children. It's estimated that for every one incident reported, there are five or six that aren't.

"Because the victim doesn't know his or her rights, they're intimidated by the bully," said Richard Gomez, the State Monitor in the Office of Civil Rights. "They don't want to be snitch. They want to be part of the crowd."

Now, new reporting websites will help youth, particularly bystanders, to report bullying without having to identify themselves.

"Students can go onto a website or a cell phone, and text and anonymously tell their principle or whoever is responsible at school, ‘I saw this happening,' and not be identified as the person who is informing of the situation," Gomez said.

Part of this national and state campaign is that all adults need to become involved. For parents, even if it is not your child being bullied, perhaps his or her friends are. Convince children to tell you or to report incidents of bullying anonymously.

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Carole Mikita

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