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March Against Bullying

Orange County Library System
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Innovation Summary

Orange County Library System expanded the goal of library programming beyond information or entertainment, and engaged in an organized effort to better its local community. Bullying is interfering with the health, wellness and safety of our children and teens. The Orange County Library System (OCLS) partnered with area health and wellness providers to offer resources and public safety initiatives to help victims of bullying. OCLS aimed to put the brakes on bullying by providing information and expert advice to victims and bullies themselves as well as parents and educators.

Innovation Leader: Tracy Zampaglione, Public Relations Administrator, zampaglione.tracy@ocls.info

Problem Statement

Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) is the public school district for Orange County, Florida. OCPS has an enrollment of over 175,000 students, making it the 12th largest school district in the United States. And unfortunately, a large percentage of those

students live in fear of going to school each day – afraid to endure the agony of bullying.  A large metropolitan area, Orange County mirrors national statistics:

  • 1 in 7 Students in Grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying
  • 56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school
  • 15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school
  • 71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school
  • 90% of 4th  through 8th graders report being victims of bullying

Innovation

Fat. Gay. Or just different. These are the reasons children are being bullied in our schools. It’s an epidemic that causes 160,000 children a day to stay home from school because they are afraid of being bullied according to the U.S. Department of Education.   Alarmed by this unsettling trend, the Orange County Library System turned to experts to provide a month-long series of programs to empower parents, teachers and students to tackle bullying head on.   As part of its March Against Bullying, programs to reverse the trend were offered at all library locations in March 2011.  Nationally recognized expert Jim West waived his $1,500 speaker’s fee to give a Saturday session called How to Keep Your Kids Off the Bully Radar.  West has appeared on national morning news shows.  Another psychologist, Dr. Susan Daniel, presented a workshop call Practical Solutions to Bullying.  Programs targeting everyone from pre-K to teens to parents and teachers were presented at all library locations.

Progress

During the campaign, the abundance of media coverage successfully created an increased awareness of the problem and the need to remain vigilant in our March Against Bullying. More than 500 people attended library programs on bullying during the month.

The online bullying portions of the website with resources had more than 1,000 views.  Meanwhile, more than 2,500 children and teens signed anti-bullying pledges and vowed to become “up standers” not “bystanders” when they witnessed someone being bullied.  All in all, the March Against Bullying effectively articulated its central core message that it’s high time to stand up to bullying.  Even better, many parents, students and educators gained valuable resources and knowledge for dealing with bullying in real life.