Strong Anti-bullying Message a Big Part of Annual Advocacy Event
Thursday, October 25, 2012 • 2:45pm
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and Dr. Stuart Green – the founder and director of the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention – has an important message for people of all ages: All kids in school should feel safe, supported, included and engaged. That means NO bullying.
“New Jersey was one of the earliest states to develop anti-bullying laws and now has one of the strongest anti-bullying laws in the U.S.,” said Dr. Green, a licensed clinical social worker and behavioral scientist at Overlook Medical Center in Summit whose advocacy helped develop the law. “In addition, New Jersey has one of the nation’s strongest anti-discrimination laws. New Jersey educators deserve recognition for making strong efforts to promote character, strengthen school culture and improve school climate. However, in New Jersey and everywhere else, we still need to do much more to prevent and address bullying.”
That’s why Dr. Green’s Coalition is proud to approve the 3rd annual Youth Advocate 5K Family Run Walk on Saturday, November 3, at Borough Park in Mendham. The event seeks to foster awareness, acceptance, action and advocacy on behalf of kids with neurological disorders such as Tourette Syndrome, OCD, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome and anxiety – many of whom frequently are subjects of bullying in their schools and communities.
Proceeds from support of the Youth Advocate 5K will strengthen the statewide education outreach and peer advocacy programs of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS), which founded this event as New Jersey Walks For TS in 2010.
“The strength, activities, sophistication and influence of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders far outweighs its size,” said Dr. Green, who is one of seven members of the Youth Advocate 5K Honorary Committee. “It is one of the best community-based support and advocacy organizations anywhere. The Center has always been clear about the importance of preventing and addressing bullying to the children, youth and families it serves. NJCTS has been an important partner and support for Coalition initiatives and accomplishments. We are especially glad to be asked to support and participate in this NJCTS event.”
One of the teen advocates NJCTS has trained through its peer advocacy program, River Dell High School senior Emily Fleischman, often speaks about bullying to the many elementary schools she visits throughout the year. As someone who was regularly bullied when she was younger, Fleischman believes bullying can be stopped, but only if everyone – students, parents and teachers – is made aware of the consequences.
“Tourette Syndrome (and other neurological disorders) is too often the punch line of the jokes in the school hallways … ‘Ooops, sorry, I said a curse word – I have Tourette!’ Kids with TS are tortured in school daily because of the tics (physical and verbal) we cannot control,” said Fleischman, who is volunteering at the Youth Advocate 5K. “Bullies do not understand. If only they knew what TS is like and how uncomfortable, even painful, it is to have uncontrollable urges to tic. That, coupled, with the fear of being laughed at, is just an awful way to spend teenage years.”
Fleischman and Dr. Green believe anti-bullying efforts are extremely important – that those with neurological disorders suffer enough merely coping with the disorders on a daily basis.
“We do not need to endure the pain of fending off bullies,” Fleischman said.
“Bullying is almost always a pattern of negative acts, not a single incident,” Dr. Green added.
To register for the Youth Advocate 5K, please visit http://www.active.com/running/mendham-nj/3rd-annual-youth-advocate-5k-family-run-walk-2012. To donate to the event, please visit http://www.active.com/donate/MendhamWalksForTS12. For more information about the Coalition, please visit http://www.njbullying.org. For more information about NJCTS, please visit http://www.njcts.org or call 908-575-7350.