Iowans are being asked to wear orange one day next week as a way to show support for an effort to stop bullying in schools. Julie Hertzog , director of the Minneapolis-based National Bullying Prevention Center, says Wednesday is what’s being called Unity Day and students in dozens of schools across Iowa are signing on.
“It’s a day to unite against bullying,” Hertzog says. “It has a simple call to action of, ‘Make It Orange and Make It End.’ Students around the country and around the world are going to be wearing orange in support of the issue. They can also just write the word ‘unity’ on their hand or on their arm or their notebook.” She says it’s startling how many young people are impacted by this problem.
“One-hundred-sixty-thousand students each day stay home from school for fear of being bullied because they don’t want to go to school, they don’t want to face the situation,” Hertzog says. “When they do that, they’re missing out on the opportunity to learn.” Several high-profile cases involving student suicides in recent years displayed how bullying can take an extreme mental toll on the victim.
“We also hear about students who are exhibiting behavior like cutting, self-injury, of students who become anorexic or bulimic,” Hertzog says. “It’s all done as a result to just being in a lot of pain about being bullied.” One survey found that more than one-million children nationwide were cyber-bullied last year on Facebook alone, an example of how online bullying has grown.
Hertzog says cyber-bullying is the modern version of writing on the bathroom wall. “When we were growing up, bullying was limited to the school or maybe your neighborhood,” she says. “Now, with technology, kids have instant access to spread gossip and rumors and slander and send mean texts.
On social media, they can reach an audience in an instant of hundreds, even thousands.” Learn more about the anti-bullying effort at: www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City