This October marks National Bullying Prevention Month in the United States and Canada. First founded in 2006 by PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center, the campaign also marks the first Monday in October as the Blue Shirt Day™ World Day of Bullying Prevention to raise awareness of bullying and bullying prevention initiatives worldwide. Through a full roster of scheduled events the campaign runs the entire month of October with hundreds of schools and organizations, including Facebook, CNN, and Yahoo!Kids supporting the month through their own media outreach.
PACER launched the campaign to call attention to the destructive influence of bullying and to overcome prevailing attitudes treating it as "just a rite of passage" or something that children need to experience to "get tough." In reality, bullying can have a wide range of serious consequences for targeted children, including reduced school attendance, depression,, substance abuse, and even suicide. Along with conventional bullying, including physical and emotional abuse, spreading rumours, and ostracizing children due to race, religion, sexual orientation, or physical characteristics, we are also seeing a rise in cyberbullying with children and adolescents being targeted through social media and texting.
Surveys measuring the extent of bullying behaviour in schools show that:
- One in seven Canadian children aged eleven to sixteen are victims of bullying
- About twenty-five percent of children in grades four to six are also victims
- In most cases, bullying stops when peers intervene or fail to support the bullying behaviour
- Adults who were bullied as children are more likely to develop depression
- Eleven percent of children bully other children at least once a year
Bullying behaviour also tends to be carried over into adult life with workplace bullying, parental bullying of children, and bullying of sexual and racial minorities remaining common in many places. Such behaviour is often deemed to be acceptable in certain subcultures including blue collar jobs, military and law enforcement positions, or in positions allow people to assume a position of power ove others.
The Pacer National Bullying Prevention Center website contains different resources to help victims of bullying, parents, and teachers to learn more about resources available to them and ways of raising awareness in their own community. Toolkits are available to be used in the classroom or as part of an anti-bullying event and to help send a message to bullying victims showing that "we're here for you."