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Help eliminate bullying in our community

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While efforts are year round to put an end to bullying in our schools, even more outreach occurs in the month of October which is designated as Bullying Prevention Month.

Moms and dads, you'll want to pay attention. "Bullying is when a person, one child or person is unable to defend him or herself against another person and oftentimes its repeated, but it doesn't have to be. It's a power imbalance - again, when one person has a harder time defending him or herself," said Joleen Respicio.

While it may seem like typical growing pains for school-aged children, Judiciary of Guam project manager for the safe and drug-free schools project Respicio warns, don't brush it off. Especially in today's digital world where bullying now includes cyberbullying and sexting. "Don't dismiss it. Whether it's because we grew up in a different time as our children and we didn't experience it in the same level, these days are very different for our children."

October marks Bullying Prevention Month.

A proclamation was signed earlier this week designating this year's theme as Kindness. pass it on.

Along with a theme on kindness, outreach efforts will focus on what Respicio explains is an "unselfie." Respicio said, "Everyone knows what selfie means so to unselfie its about flipping the lenses and perspective taking and being able to build empathy and through empathy and through empathy it helps us to decrease bullyling actually when we build that care and compassion for others and that perspective taking is putting ourselves in another's shoes."

Survey says outreach efforts are working. "The goal is to be able to change social norms and behaviors," she said. "At the elementary level primarily in the private schools there was an 11-percent decrease from the previous school year to last school year," she said.

And, it's working in high schools too.

School resource officers, better known as SROs, reported a decreased number of bullying incidents on school campuses. "That decreased by 47-percent so there was a great impact at that level," she said.

Respicio notes that while numbers show a significant decline in incidents, prevention efforts must continue at all levels - classroom, school, the individual level which includes moms and dads, and the community. "That's one of the big responses that came through in one of the surveys is that we ask them - if you're being bullied, if you feel threatened, bulliied, cyberbullied or sexted, who are you telling? And the top answer by far by a high percentage was no one," she said.

"They felt they could handle it on their own 0606 so we're encouraging them to seek help and address it."

To show you don't tolerate bullying, Respicio encourages residents to participate in unity day.

All you have to do is wear orange on October 25. For more information and resources on how to talk to your children about bullying call 475-3426.

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