Bullying has never been more a part of the national social conversation than it is now. The rise of cyberbullying has given way to considerable awareness efforts, as advocates become more numerous and vocal. Many celebrities and public figures even lend their platforms to support the cause. However, addressing bullying is a task for the nation, as well as the communities that make up this country: After all, bullying can contribute to vulnerable individuals developing damaging eating disorders or substance abuse issues that stem from their experiences. That's why October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
Here's more information on the history of the month, as well as what you can do to help:
Once a one-week event, now a month of awareness
Started in 2006 by the PACER Center as a campaign held in the first week of October, the effort evolved into a month-long initiative in 2010 that engages communities across the nation to stand up to and speak out against bullying, as well as provide resources for those affected by bullying. PACER focused on promoting the initiative in the classroom and reached out to the National PTA, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association to help organize schools and communities. Now "a nationwide call to action," PACER has noted National Bullying Prevention Month is supported by outreach from high-profile partners like CNN, Disney and Facebook.
Run against bullying among events held
Among the premier awareness efforts within National Bullying Prevention Month is PACER's Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying. Held on Saturday, Oct. 7, this year, the annual run, walk and roll takes place in several regional locations across the country, including Atlanta; Brooklyn, New York City; Fort Worth, Texas; Las Vegas; and Bloomington, Minnesota.
However, even if you're not in one of those areas, countless workshops, seminars, talks, outreach events and other activities are held. Last year, StopBullying.gov, operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, listed several Youth Voice events that had speakers from walks of life prone to bullying – like LGBTQ youth and those with disabilities.
Social media plays a large role in National Bullying Prevention Month. Facebook has a profile picture filter that users can select for the month, while various Twitter Talks are taking place. Many participants take to Instagram to engage with those affected by bullying, directly or indirectly. This outreach is important because some of those who are bullied may be suffering from other issues like an eating disorder or substance abuse that make them less likely to seek help.
Unity Day – Oct. 25
Bullying awareness advocates make a statement every Unity Day during National Bullying Prevention Month by wearing orange and encouraging those they know, teach or work with to do the same. Unity Day 2017 is being held Wednesday, Oct. 25, and has an official orange "Create a world without bullying" shirt. The sight of a united effort has a big effect in schools and other places.
"Orange provides a powerful, visually compelling expression of solidarity," said Paula Goldberg, executive director of PACER Center. "When hundreds of individuals in a school or organization wear orange, the vibrant statement becomes a conversation starter, sending the unified message to kids to know that they are not alone."
Resources available for all
The beauty of National Bullying Prevention Month is that even if you're not involved in an official event, there are still a wealth of resources any interested or affected party can take advantage of. PACER even offers a guide for students who want to plan their own even in their communities. If you know someone who experiences bullying, or are being bullied yourself, October is the month to take action and raise awareness or contact professional help (as unaddressed bullying can lead to issues like eating disorders or substance abuse).