The Berkley Rotary Club and Berkley School District kicked off their "Take a Stand – No Place for Hate" partnership to combat bullying Monday.
The partnership's goal is to work with businesses and students to create a set of guiding principles for the community, said Anderson Middle School principal Vince Gigliotti, who was the keynote speaker during the Rotary Club's weekly meeting at First United Methodist Church.
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"So many of the children in our schools are in pain because they have to deal with this every day," Gigliotti said, adding that it is up to the community to put a system in place that supports kids and gives them a way to speak up. "... If we adults stand passively by, we are sending the wrong message."
To drive home his point, Gigliotti cited statistics, including the following that can be found on the Stomp Out Bullying website.
- One out of four teens are bullied.
- As many as 160,000 students stay home on any given day because they're afraid of being bullied.
- One out of five kids admits to being a bully.
- Up to 43 percent of students have been bullied while online.
Technology has changed the scope of bullying, Gigliotti said: What was once a note passed in class is now a form of communication that quickly can spread from tens to hundreds to thousands of people or more online.
But that doesn't mean the community is powerless, he said.
Gigliotti suggested the following steps, some of which already have proven effective in the Berkley School District, he said.
- Raise awareness about bullying.
- Support No Place for Hate, a national program that aims to curb bullying.
- Host national speakers on cyber bullying.
- Create guiding principles for the community and post them at businesses around town.
"This could really be something huge," Gigliotti said of the partnership, which will do its work with the help of volunteers and fundraisers.
For example, proceeds from the Rotary Club's annual pancake breakfast in November will benefit the partnership (see below for more information).
Berkley Rotary Club president Paul Benson said Monday that the next step is for a committee of Rotarians and school district representatives to begin work on anti-bullying signage that will be displayed at businesses throughout Berkley.
Community members who are interested in getting involved can drop into one of the Rotary Club's weekly meetings, which are held at 12:15 p.m. each Monday at the First United Methodist Church, or contact Benson via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, he said.
"A lot of people may think (bullying's) something that isn't happening here, that can't happen here," Benson said. "But it's happening every day under the radar screen."
If you go
- What: Berkley Rotary Club pancake breakfast
- When: 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3
- Where: Berkley First United Methodist Church
- Cost: $6 adults, $3 children; sponsorship packages are available with proceeds benefiting the "Take a Stand – No Place for Hate" campaign (see attached PDF).
- Why go: Enjoy an all-you-can-eat breakfast of pancakes, sausage, bagels, coffee, tea and juice prepared by Rotary Club members while you show support for the community anti-bullying campaign.
- What else: Celebrity pancake flippers will include Berkley School District Superintendent, Anderson Middle School principal Vince Gigliotti and Berkley Public Safety Director Richard Eshman.