We have seen in the news too often about teens being cyber bullied. Even worse, a growing number of young people have taken their life because of what they are going through.
Today the Adams County Coalition to Prevent Teen Pregnancy hosted a cyber-bullying summit at the Adams County Department of Emergency Services building. The summit brought key players to the table, victims of cyber-bullying, law enforcement, social services, teachers, counselors, administrators, prosecution, victim witness, nurses, doctors, mental health workers and parents to discuss the real issues of cyber-bullying, how it’s affecting our children and what can we do collectively to help prevent this from happening to our kids.
Alex Bruder was the victim of bullying. “I would have stuff pushed on the floor, and just being pushed around,” said Bruder, who is now home-schooled. “It was hard to say I wanted to be home-schooled, because I didn’t want to look like a coward.” Looking back Bruder says she is happy she removed herself from the situation.
Now as part of her Girl Scouts project for her ‘Silver Award’ she is spreading awareness about bullying, including at today’s summit. She wants to help others who are going through the same pain she endured. “The schools did not take as much action as they should. I mean you tell a teacher you are being bullied and they tell you to get over it. So, knowing that I have made people aware of the problem, and maybe it will spark something inside of someone. Maybe someone will take a stand. I think that is good enough,” said Bruder.
Bruder says being active helped her keep her from dwelling on the pain. “Doing something that you love can sort of help erase those bad thoughts. It can help you take something not as hard if you weren’t doing anything.”
Her project motto is ‘Yes to respect, no to bullying’
“You’re not respecting someone if you are talking bad about them,” said Bruder. “I hope that the kids who are being bullied end up doing well in life. And rising above it and showing the schools and their bullies that they were better than that.” She says parents have an obligation too. “Don’t gossip in front of your children. You are teaching them that is OK. Tell your kids when they are little to treat people how you want to be treated. Tell your kids that telling people they are ugly and pointing out their flaw really does hurt.”
Bruder has hopes for her future. “My mom always tells me that college will be the experience that I should have had. The social gatherings and making friends that I never had.”
Jim Holler is a retired Adams County Police Chief. He now travels and speaks to groups about cyber-bullying. He was the main at the summit. “We have a good mix here today with prosecutors, we’ve got out schools represented, our social services represented, law enforcement, so we’ve got a good multi-disciplinary team. Because, it’s going to take this team to come together to figure out what they need to do to better help these kids through these situations,” said Holler. He said bullying is a growing problem. “In the old days, when I went through it, bullying stopped when you went home because you didn’t have cell phones or the internet. Now it’s a 24-hour ordeal for them. They could move out of the area but it’s still going to follow them because of the technology.”