A new school year starts tomorrow for my area, Fairfax, Virginia. This is the fifth year of this blog and a new school year is always a time to reflect on what happened last year and where this year may go.
Last year was a breakthrough in the awareness of bullying and the level of interest in (at least in the United States) about the issue of bullying. Our President held a conference day on bullying and started a new government sponsored website on the subject called StopBullying.gov (http://www.stopbullying.gov/).
Several court cases were heard on the subject and the legal aspect of bullying was taken more seriously. News outlets covered the subject in more detail, including a “What Would You Do?” segment on our NBC national station. Most schools and counties in the United States created a formal program around bullying and bullying awareness and are starting to put laws on the books.
And for me, I wrote a play for high schoolers to perform on the subject of bullying in conjunction with students and the drama teacher at my old High School. I also spoke to many groups on the subject of bullying, sharing my personal stories. This year, we are putting together a touring company of young men and women to perform the play “Standing By” and plan to “take the show” on the road so it can be performed for a larger audience.
But, I still ask how much are we making a difference? I know that this year will still bring stories of bullying and even extreme bullying. Some will suffer with post incident trauma and we will ask the question “why” over and over again. It takes a village to make a change. By village, I mean that it is the community, and not the school to focus on next. Schools for the most part got the message. I am not always sold that the communities surrounding the schools get it as well. Many kids are bullied aways from school. Now many are cyberbullied at home, on their mobile devices, and everywhere they go.
This year, let’s make awareness bigger than just the school. Start to focus on our community as a whole. I certainly hope that this school year is one where we see a reduced number of bullying and more bystander and community support. I do believe a difference is happening. I hope if you are reading this that you will do your part to help STAND UP and not STAND BY.