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Year after Triad girl's suicide, Unity Day raises awareness of bullying

By KEISHA ROWE • Oct 25, 2017 at 9:00 PM

SPRINGFIELD (TNS) — A year after an 11-year-old Triad student killed herself, a national anti-bullying organization is holding a Unity Day today to raised awareness about bullying.

Bethany Thompson, a student at Triad Middle School, committed suicide in her home in October 2016 after her parents said she was tormented about her crooked smile. Another child who attended Triad, Kamden Ketchell, killed himself in April 2012.

The PACER Center, a parent training and information center focused on helping families with children with disabilities, wants to raise awareness about bullying on its annual nationwide Unity Day event today, Oct. 25. The group, which established October as National Bullying Prevention Month in 2006, wants to persuade parents and school districts around the country to not only stop and think about the issue, but take a stand against it.

“More than one of every five school-aged children report being bullied,” said Julie Hertzog, director of PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center, in a news release. “It’s important these students know they are not alone and that they have the right to feel safe.”

PACER's Unity Day encourages schools, businesses and more across the nation to stand up and talk about bullying, then work to prevent it.

Organizers have asked those wanting to participate to wear orange to show solidarity and support for those who have been bullied. The organization also offers lesson plans for teachers to bring the subject up inside the classroom, and ideas on how to hold discussions and events around the topic on their web site.

Studies show bullying in schools has changed over time, becoming more aggressive and with the rise in use of social media, more unrelenting in recent years.

Several school districts and states around the country have implemented laws and policies to combat the problem, including a New York town recently passing a law that sends parents of bullies to jail if their child racks up too many offenses. The law was patterned off a similar one presently active in Wisconsin.

Currently, the Jessica Logan Act, Ohio’s anti-bullying law amended in 2012, establishes procedure on how cases of bullying and cyber-bullying should be handled inside individual schools and doesn't have legal consequences for the bullies or their parents.


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