(Hauppauge, NY-March 21, 2014) County Executive Bellone was joined by Legislator Sarah Anker, Suffolk County Youth Director, Roderick Pearson, Co-Chairs of the Suffolk County Youth Board and Suffolk County Health Department Officials to announce initiatives implemented by the County to address bullying and cyber bullying which include: awareness, development of online presence to provide valuable resources to those who need support, youth trainings, and middle and high school educational campaigns.
According to 2010 Bullying Statistics, 160,000 children miss school each day for fear of being bullied. Statistics also show that 56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.
“The effects of bullying can be devastating, ranging from damaging a person’s self-esteem to substance abuse to causing physical harm, up to and including suicide,” stated County Executive Bellone. “Bullying does not discriminate. It reaches individuals of all ages, all ethnicities, and all socio-economic levels. But when it touches a young child, it resonates deeply and often times, so powerfully, that it leaves an indelible mark on a child’s future. We all need to be part of the solution, so I am here today to highlight what Suffolk County is doing to implement and support Anti-Bullying initiatives.”
Legislator Sarah Anker recently received unanimous approval from the Suffolk County Legislature to launch a new bullying awareness website. The site will provide support and guidance for children who are or have been bullied.
“When it comes to bullying, it’s all about speaking up,” said Anker. “Cyber-bullying has increased dramatically over the past several years, and the county will have the opportunity to assist by providing valuable resources to those who need support. I’m looking forward to facilitating the website to help prevent the emotional scars that bullying can leave behind.”
As of July 1, 2012, the New York State Dignity Act mandates that all schools must designate a point person, known as a Dignity Act Coordinator (DAC), to assist students who feel that they are being bullied. To assist school districts in meeting this mandate, the Suffolk County Dept. of Health Services Office of Health Education has developed and implemented an 8 to 14 session peer education program entitled: “Healthy Communication and Bullying Prevention”. The main goal of the program is to teach students how to stand up for someone being bullied rather than standing by passively. The purpose is to create “Up-stander Empathy from Bystander Apathy”. The result is that students are trained how to respond to aggression and how to stand up for those targeted, and then go into the classes and teach what they know.
This peer education program trains high school students to respond to bullying quickly and effectively using concepts, lessons and objectives that meet and incorporate the National Health Education Standards (NHES) and the NHES Learning Objectives.
The Suffolk County Health Department has successfully completed training students as peer educators at West Babylon High School and recently started training students at Lindenhurst High School. The health department envisions expansion of the program through train the trainer workshops with teachers and school districts looking to partner with the county.
In addition to the aforementioned programs and initiatives, the Suffolk County Youth Bureau announced the first county-wide anti-cyberbullying campaign recently launched in an effort to educate and sensitize our youth to the issues surrounding bullying.
To be eligible, middle school and high school aged youth must submit an 8 ½” x 11” poster, containing original content, reflecting, in words and/or images, the child’s perception of cyberbullying and its impact. The poster must be postmarked no later than April 18, 2014, and must include, on the back thereof, the name of the child artist, as well as the name and address of the school or youth bureau with which the child is affiliated. Poster submissions must be sent to: Roderick A. Pearson, Executive Director, Suffolk County Youth Bureau, 100 Veterans Memorial Hwy. P.O Box 6100 Hauppauge, NY 11788.
The Anti-Bullying Campaign Committee will select 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners from the middle and high school age categories. Winners will be notified by Friday, May 16, 2014, and will receive their award at a ceremony to be held on May 30, 2014. In addition, winning posters will be displayed in the lobby of the County Executive’s office at H. Lee Denison Building during the month of October 2014, which Suffolk County is proclaiming as Bullying Prevention Month.
(L-R- Eileen Cooper, Co-Chair-Suffolk County Youth Board, Roderick Pearson, Executive Director of the Suffolk County Youth Bureau, John Martin, Suffolk County Senior Public Health Educator, County Executive Bellone, Legislator Sarah Anker, Shawn Hirst, Co-Chair-Suffolk County Youth Board)