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Banding together to end bullying, once and for all

Kudos to the Hamburg Village Board for designating October as Anti-Bullying Awareness Month. The board members have expressed a commendable commitment to the ongoing fight against bullying.

“We want the community to become more alive and to take a good look at bullying in general, to get a better understanding about how it affects people,” said Village Mayor Tom Moses Sr.

With all of the focus being put on acceptance and love today, it is sad to hear how much of a problem bullying still is, especially in – but not exclusive to – our schools.

Bullying isn’t new. Extreme cases have been making headlines all over the country, like Williamsville native Jamey Rodemeyer’s, two years ago. People of all ages are still being subjected to cruelty, day in and day out. It’s nobody else’s responsibility to respond to this but our own.

“We want people to look at their own image and consider the fact that, even in your own home, you have to think about how you act,” Moses said. “We want people to consider their actions so they don’t get caught up in the bullying aspect.”

Kids mirror the attitudes that they see around them. Nipping bullying in the bud begins at home and extends to teachers, counselors and other role models.

It makes me sad to hear about people who are ostracized and made to feel small. Whether they are picked on for something they can’t help – such as their race or appearance – or something they can, such as their religion, these targeted individuals are still people who have feelings. They are just as important as anyone else.

We all need to stand up and fight for those who cannot – or, to avoid more retaliation, will not – do something to help themselves.

Bullies in many television shows, even today, are pictured as strong, popular individuals. Their targets are shown as bespeckled, pocket protector-wearing nerds who sniffle and move on. The bullies high five their friends and head out to play ball, never receiving any consequences for their actions.

This is not how it should be. People like Rodemeyer, who ultimately took his own life, should be able to be themselves without fear of retaliation. Bullying should be a thing of the past, and it is our job to make that happen.

The golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” should always apply. Kids should know that their parents and teachers support their efforts to ensure the people around them are treated with respect. This kind of mistreatment should never be tolerated.

“I want the whole community to be aware of this problem,” Moses said. “Stop targeting people; let’s work together to keep things calmed down.”

I found many sad statistics about bullying online, but I also discovered dozens of groups that have banded together to do good and to combat this huge problem in our country.

One interesting organization called “Make Beats Not Beat Downs” rallies young people from around the nation to become involved in art and music. The group brings together actors, musicians, parents, teachers and students, and tries to harness young people’s energy, to create something productive.

The organization asks kids to “make a sound” by participating in these anti-bullying efforts, creating clubs and spending time helping and encouraging each other. It also gives kids resources that can help them, if they become targets for bullies.

Groups like this give me hope for the future, but, unfortunately, hundreds of people still experience bullying, every single day.

The hurt is continuing. We all say things that we regret and we have all been wounded by someone else’s words. It is ultimately our responsibility to treat other people as we want to be treated.

For more information about MBNBD and its efforts to help tomorrow’s generation, visit www.makebeatsnotbeatdowns.org.
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