October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Bullying is a human right issue.

At least one in every five children experience bullying in school.

Bullying is not simply about threats, intimidation, and violence; bullying is an abuse of a child’s human rights. Addressing bullying from a human rights perspective addresses all forms of bullying, both those based on bias toward a particular group (e.g., race, religion, ethnicity), and those rising from personal animosity (e.g., jealousy, status, class, appearance, individual idiosyncrasy).

National Bullying Prevention Month is a nationwide campaign founded in 2006 by the the Parents Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER), an advocacy organization for children with disabilities. The campaign is held during the month of October and unites communities around the world to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. This campaign has grown from an initial week-long event to a worldwide effort with thousands of individuals participating in multiple activities throughout October.

The focus of National Bullying Prevention Month is the importance of creating a safe environment for learning in our schools by eliminating bullying.  This means it requires a community wide effort to assure that children are safe at school, while online, and in their community. Preventing bullying needs to be addressed both in the classroom, throughout the entire school environment and in the wider community beyond.

orangeUnity Day is the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month. “Make it Orange and Make it End,” is the Unity Day slogan. This year Unity Day is on October 25, 2017.  People are encouraged to wear the color orange on this day to show their solidarity with the bullying prevention cause and send the message everywhere that no one deserves to be bullied.

HRE USA encourages educators, students and everyone to take part in this effort and recognize the human rights dimension of bullying prevention.  Article 1 of the UDHR states:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (signed but not yet ratified by the United States) recognizes that all children, without exception, must be allowed “to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity (Principle 1)” and must “be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination (Principle 10).” Bullying and demeaning treatment of any kind is antithetical to respect for human dignity.

Rights come with responsibilities. Everyone has a responsibility to create a safe environment by standing up against violence, harassment, and bullying. When schools and communities do not respond to stop bullying, they are failing their responsibility to protect the victim’s human rights. Students also have a responsibility to protect the human rights of others. Only when bystanders take safe and appropriate action can bullying be prevented.

For further resources on creating a bully-free, human rights-friendly classroom , please check out the “Bullying” section in HRE USA’s Resource Library.

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