Local schools step up anti-bullying efforts for national awareness month

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – As part of National Bullying Prevention Month and World Day of Bullying Prevention Monday, many local schools are stepping up efforts to combat the issue.

People across the world are wearing blue Monday to raise awareness as part of Blue Shirt Day, including many teachers and students in the East.

The National Education Association reports more than 160,000 children miss school every day out of fear of being bullied. That’s why this month in particular, local schools are taking steps to stop it.

Lenoir County Schools continues stepping up efforts to combat bullying. WNCT has reported about the school system piloting the Speak Up NC app several months ago to give older kids an anonymous way to report bullying.

Now, they’re taking their efforts to younger kids.

“When they get older, we just want them to learn to respect each other. We want them to understand that it’s okay to disagree. You do not have to take it to the next step. So we believe that it happens here in elementary,” said Southwood Elementary School Principal Michelle Hill.

This month, Southwood Elementary is following the motto “Southwood Sticks Together Against Bullying,” teaching kids what to do if they see bullying and taking a pledge to speak out against it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports around one in four students is bullied. With the continued growth of social media, reports of bullying across the country also continue growing. The CDC reports more than 70% of young people see bullying in school, yet only 20 to 30% of students who are bullied actually tell an adult.

Southwood Guidance Counselor Lauren Moore says it’s important to start education efforts early.

“We can prevent it. I mean…it happens in schools. You know so why not start at the elementary level and move on? And why not you know have just one month where it’s awareness, but really we need to involve it year round,” Moore said.

This year, Pitt County is focusing on younger kids too, bringing the anti-bullying campaign Rachel’s Challenge to elementary schools.

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