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October 24th, 2012

This Week in Orange County 10-24-12



Orange County Executive Edward Diana
Many recognition and awareness events are held during the month of October. Some are well-known to us, like Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Some are fun - such as Apple Month and National Book Month. Others help shed light on important topics, like Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

October is also National Bullying Prevention Month. While less well-known than some of the other awareness events this month, National Bullying Prevention Month is quickly gaining traction and acceptance as the issues of bullying and other bullying –related challenges become more widely understood. According to the website www.stopbullying.gov, the purpose of this designation is to raise awareness and provide the latest resources to those who need them in order to transform our society from one that accepts bullying to a society that recognizes that bullying must – and can – be addressed through education and support.

Each year, millions of children and youth experience the humiliation and devastating effects of bullying. It’s more than just “kids being kids” – bullying is the unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and is repeated over time. It can come in the form of verbal bullying, such as teasing or name calling, social bullying, which involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships, or physical bullying by causing harm to a person’s body or possessions. While bullying can occur at any time or anywhere, it frequently takes place in and around school grounds, but is certainly not limited to school. With the ever-increasing rise of online communications and social media, cyber-bullying has become increasingly prevalent and harmful. Messages posted on a social media site can have lasting, long-term effects on a young person.

To raise awareness, increase understanding, and open communications, Orange County has formed an anti-bullying committee chaired by Carol Chichester, Youth Bureau Director, and Tammy Rhein, System of Care Director. It’s important for youth and parents alike to understand that they can do something to prevent bullying, avoid participating in bullying activities, or protect themselves from being victims of bullying. Check out the System of Care website (www.mysystemofcare.org) for some useful, practical advice to help children assert themselves appropriately and effectively. These include:

• Teach children that it’s okay to say “no” to an unacceptable demand.

• Teach social skills so that young people know how to communicate clearly and resolve problems firmly and fairly.

• Take time to get to know your children’s friends. Identify potential problems and work with your child to correct them appropriately. Help them understand that it’s okay, and even good, to make new friends.

• Identify ways to respond to bullies. Help children identify acts of aggression, bossiness or discrimination and encourage them not to give into a bully’s demands. This discourages future bullying behavior.

• Demonstrate the value of personal achievement. Teach kids to value their own feelings and they will be more resistant to peer pressure and more successful in achieving their personal goals.

• Work with your child to build self-confidence and promote empowerment to succeed.

By equipping young people with the right tools, including education, activities, and leadership skills, we can help put an end to bullying and help create strong empowered youth today, who will be the leaders of tomorrow. To learn more, visit System of Care’s website or the Youth Bureau at www.orangecountygov.com.

Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.

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