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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES » RHODE ISLAND » Stop Bullying Now!—Join the Fight
Stop Bullying Now!—Join the Fight

Cumberland, Rhode Island

By Mike Dunphy | April 11, 2011

Unfortunately, many of us have been there—shaking in our boots under the fearsome menace of a bully. Bigger, stronger, and often enabled by a coterie of henchmen, it’s a fight we can’t win by ourselves and can lead to a public humiliation that haunts us forever.

Amanda Hannon holding her Women of Achievement Award

I was no different. Throughout my school years, I was subjected to a wide range of common, yet no less viscous, abuse: insults to the face, duct tape to the hair, sucker punches to the kidney, slaps to the face, wedgies to the backside, and on one occasion, urine to the leg. As humiliating as those experiences were, they pale in comparison to the ever increasing news reports of a more lethal form of bullying.

Just two years ago, 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Springfield, Massachusetts, hanged himself at home as a result of the torment by the bullies at his school, followed a year later by 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, whose suicide was even mocked by her bullies on Facebook. And then there was the very public case a few months ago of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, who leapt to his death from the George Washington Bridge after being outed on the Internet by his roommate. Tragically, these stories are no longer unique.

To date, there are no encompassing statistics on bullying in America as rates fluctuate greatly depending on community, school, and other factors. A recent analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics showed that roughly one in three middle and high school students report being bullied. Another study in School Psychology Quarterly revealed rates at 22.1% for boys and 15.1% for girls.

Bullying has even caught the attention of the White House, which organized an anti-bullying conference on March 10. Opening the proceedings, the President noted that bullying “is not something we have to accept. As parents and students, as teachers and members of the community, we can take steps—all of us—to help prevent bullying and create a climate in our schools in which all of our children can feel safe; a climate in which they all can feel like they belong.”

Locally, other organizations are forming to confront the rising problem of bullying and to give opportunities for communities to come together. One such event will be the Family Fun Day & Pep Rally to Stop Bullying on April 17, 2011 in Cumberland, Rhode Island.

Whether you have a child or not, it’s an opportunity to take a stand for kids, parents, schools, and ultimately your community. Organized by the non-profit Stop Bullying Now! Rhode Island, it seeks to “provide a fun event for the community while educating about bullying prevention,” according to director and founder Amanda Hannon.

A 20-year-0ld college student, Hannon’s precocious ambition has even won her a Women of Achievement Award by the YMCA.   “Stop Bullying Now! she declares, “was founded to bring awareness to and educate the community on bullying prevention.”

The festival also seeks to bring the community together in a fun way. “We will be having two sections dedicated completely to the kids,” Hannon explains. The first features an arts-and-crafts area complete with inflatable obstacle course, demonstrations of martial arts and a bevy of speakers including the author of the popular children’s book series If I Had a Magic Carpet Laura Clarizio.

“The issue of bullying is something none of us can ignore,” the author stresses. “It is important to educate children at a young age.”

Also at the podium will be 2010’s Miss Rhode Island America, while Miss Teen Rhode Island, Mrs. Rhode Island, and Pat the Patriot sign autographs.

The second zone features mini-golf, demonstrations of gymnastics, book signings, a craft fair, resource tent, and concession area. The third zone sports a rock wall, bounce house, and the chance to strap into whirling madness of the Orbotron (best not to eat before). That’s not to say there won’t be a lot for adults to do.

Stop Bullying Now! Rhode Island is less than a year old but conducted more than 100 workshops throughout the state in 2010 to both children and professionals. These workshops don’t include stodgy old role playing games and endless speeches, but instead fun educational games and activities based on the philosophy that anyone can be a bully and a victim. The response has been nothing but positive.

“Children love the workshops,” Hannon proudly claims. “We rate our overall success very high.” Currently, the organization is focusing on giving small grants (supported through donations and fund raising) to schools, child care programs, and other bullying prevention activists.

April 17, Hannon brings her passion to the community at large at the full-day event that will also promote the Rhode Island Parent Information Network’s “Walk to Stop Bullying” on May 21, 2011.

Perhaps it’s the shock a community feels each time another tragedy occurs that serves as the best evidence of the public’s lack of awareness about bullying and the need for organizations like Hannon’s. But she can’t do it alone. There is strength in numbers. A strong community requires the active support of its members. With our help, pupils may soon be able to attend schools without the fear of abuse.


Stop Bulling Now! Rhode Island

Email: stopbullyingnowri@yahoo.com


Family Fun Day & Pep Rally to Stop Bullying

April 17, 2011 from 9AM to 2PM.

Cumberland Monastery, 1464 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland, RI 02864

All images appear courtesy, and are copyright, their respective owners.

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