By Vernetta Garcia, Columbia Recruiting BattalionAugust 1, 2013
ASHEVILLE N.C. (Aug. 1, 2013) -- The Army's Anti-Bullying Campaign is making an impact one family, one school and one community at a time.
Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Athy of the Asheville Recruiting Center discovered his own daughter was being picked on and bullied for being overweight after he had an at-home viewing and discussion of the anti-bullying campaign video with his family.
"As a father it broke my heart that this was going on and I couldn't protect my daughter," said Athy.
Then his son began asking questions, as well, after a student at his middle school committed suicide because of bullying.
"After that, I thought I have to find a way to help and maybe even change some things," said Athy.
He introduced members of the Buncombe County Board of Education to the Army's campaign explaining how he wanted to help and was welcomed with open arms.
Athy conducted anti-bullying presentations at four schools this past school year and plans to conduct presentations in all of the area middle and high schools in the coming school year.
Enka, N.C., Middle School counselor Caryl Barga thanked Athy for presenting the program to her students.
"Your presentation and videos were compelling," said Barga. "The emphasis you put on the power of the "bystander" (an individual who's aware of what's going on but takes no action) is right in line with what we teach students. Your message reached more than 1,000 young people here at Enka and they were very engaged with your presentation style and personal stories. We appreciate your time and generosity and commitment to youth."
After conducting the presentations Athy noted, "Representatives at several schools reported a lot of kids were reporting incidents of bullying school officials weren't aware of and there were kids reporting acts of bullying some of their friends were experiencing outside of school."
Thirty percent of U.S. students in grades six through 10 are involved in acts of moderate or frequent bullying -- either as the bullies, the victims or both, according to the website www.wherepeacelives.org.
Bullying is viewed as a strong contributor to youth violence, including homicide and suicide. Bully victims are up to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University.
Experts agree the best way to address bullying is to stop it before it starts, which is what Athy is hoping to accomplish with the help of the Army's Anti-Bullying Campaign.