Published by Yahoo! Shine | The Good News with The Ellen Degeneres Show
Oct. 18, 2013
Article by Jennifer Carofano, Shine Staff
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, but the issue could probably use more than a month to bring it attention. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, bullying is the most common form of violence in our society and more than 3.2 million kids are victims each year.
Bullying typically peaks in middle school, says Julie Hertzog, director of nonprofit PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. To help young students deal with this reality, the organization launched the WE WILL Generation campaign in partnership with Green Giant this month. The goal? To encourage kids to help kids.
“It’s so much more impactful when peers talk to each other about this issue and give each other support,” Hertzog tells Yahoo Shine. “We hear from hundreds of students, and a common theme from those who witness the bullying is, ‘What can I do?,’ and those who are bullied say, ‘I feel so alone.’”
For the initial launch of WE WILL Generation, high school students will talk with middle school kids about bullying and how they can play a role in ending bullying in their school.
“The students who are presenting the material are developing their leadership and advocacy skills, as well as providing a voice of experience to the younger kids,” says Hertzog. In the coming year, a similar program will be rolled out for elementary students.
The organization has also tapped up-and-coming teen artists to help spread its message, including country music group Jetset Getset and 15-year-old singer Lizzie Sider, named Artist to Watch in 2013 by the Country Music Association. Sider will be performing at more than 80 school assemblies in California through the month of November, including her song “Butterfly” about her own experience of being bullied at a young age.
In addition to the WE WILL Generation campaign, concerned kids and parents can also show their support by signing a digital petition pledging, “The End of Bullying Begins With Me,” or by sporting a “Choose Orange” wristband. Says Hertzog, “Kids are talking about the issue and they are motivated. They want to find solutions.”