According to a survey undertaken through the Southampton Youth Bureau's 2011 Teen Assessment Project, 21 percent of the teens questioned reported having been bullied or harassed during the prior year.
A resolution naming October 2012 Bullying Prevention Month in the Town of Southampton notes, "the youth who reported being victims of bullying and harassment were twice as likely to report having symptoms of depression, almost three times as likely to have contemplated suicide or engage in self-injurious behavior, six times as likely to report being hurt by another student at school, three times as likely to be bullied by an adult outside the home, and over twice as likely to run away from home."
On the heels of last month's tragic suicide of an East Hampton High School student who was said to have been a victim of bullying, Southampton town officials are working to bring attention and awareness to those harmed by bullying, and enhance action already take by school districts. Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera,who's spearheading the effort, has joined the National Bullying Prevention Center in recognizing the month of October as "Bullying Prevention Month" in the Town.
"I have heard from many parents whose children have been the subject of bullying, the harm can be life changing for the child or young adult, and a terrible source of anxiety and stress experienced by the entire family," she said.
Partnering with the Town's Youth Bureau, Scalera has organized educational and informational events dealing with bullying and cyber-bullying at the Towns three Community Centers throughout the month. The programs will focus on the Dignity for All Students Act, role-play, real life experiences of those who have been the subject of bullying, and providing some tools for families dealing with these issues. The Dignity for All Students Act took effect in New York State in July, and requires schools to collect and report incidents of harassment and discrimination, as well as writing the Act into the schools code of conduct. "This is a great step and I commend the schools that already have addressed this and have programs in place to deal with bullying, but more can be done," said Scalera.
The first event will take place on Wednesday October 17th at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton, followed by Wednesday October 24th at the Hampton Bays Community Center, both will showcase the drama troop Act Two: the youth perspective, presented through drama and discussion – "How to be a Bullying Change Agent."
The month's final event on Tuesday October 30th at the David Crohan Community Center in Flanders will showcase Jamie and Ann Isaacs: a daughters experience as a victim and a mother's experience trying to help. All three events will begin at 7 PM and conclude at 8:30 PM including a question and answer opportunity for the guests.
The National Bullying Prevention Center's motto is "The End of Bullying Begins With You." Today has been named Unity Day by the center, with kids encouraged to wear orange to support those who have experienced bullying. Kids across the nation can follow the event on Facebook.