October is National Bullying Prevention Month and organizations around the world, from Burnett County to New Zealand, are working to raise awareness about how to prevent bullying in their communities.
Here at Healthy Burnett, our Stigma Squad has joined the effort to raise awareness about preventing bullying. The Stigma Squad, a volunteer committee devoted to breaking the negative stigma surrounding mental health, has teamed with area schools to organize a Chalk Art Competition designed to get our students talking about bullying and considering their power to prevent it. The Chalk Art Competition is an opportunity to partner with area schools to spread the message of taking action to prevent bullying through outdoor artistic drawing.
The Stigma Squad found one particular statistic especially moving, “57% of bullying situations end when a peer intervenes.” Guided by this fact, we chose a positive message of action that will allow our students to rally around one simple action: “Don’t wait. Make a difference today.” That simple statement urges students to intervene in bullying situations—by standing up to bullying, and by reaching out to those who are bullied.
And why should you care about bullying in our communities? Well, nationally, 1 in 4 students will experience bullying this year, and Burnett County is no different. According to the 2014 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 29% of High School students reported being bullied in the last 12 months. Bullying can negatively impact educational performance, erode self-esteem and self-worth, cause anxiety and depression, and lead to thoughts of self-harm.
As damaging as bullying is, there is hope, because bullying is an issue that can be prevented. When students, parents, educators, and others unite it means one less student being bullied, one more person speaking out, or another young person knowing that they are not alone. The Stigma Squad along with our local schools, Webster, Siren, Grantsburg, Northwest Journey, and Northwest Passage’s Prairieview will be creating their chalk art drawings at their campuses throughout the week of October 19th – please stop by our Facebook page to see the progress as it unfolds.
Statistics found on Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center’s website. Please check in to learn more at http://www.pacer.org/bullying/.
The message to be incorporated into chalk art:
Don’t wait. Make a difference today.
The project is being funded in part by a grant from Burnett Dairy Cooperative and the CoBank’s Sharing Success program.