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EFMP celebrates bullying prevention month

Bullying comes in various forms including physical, verbal, emotional and over the internet. Parents should let their children know it’s safe to talk to them about bullying and pick up on warning signs such as changes in behavior or disinterest in attending school. For more information on bullying prevention, contact the Moody Air Force Base school liaison officer or Exceptional Family Member Program Family Support coordinator at 229-257-4380. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/RELEASED)

Bullying comes in various forms including physical, verbal, emotional and over the internet. Parents should let their children know it’s safe to talk to them about bullying and pick up on warning signs such as changes in behavior or disinterest in attending school. For more information on bullying prevention, contact the Moody Air Force Base school liaison officer or Exceptional Family Member Program Family Support coordinator at 229-257-4380. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/RELEASED)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Exceptional Family Member Program is scheduled to promote Unity Day and present a movie highlighting the consequences of bullying during October in support of bullying prevention month.

On Oct. 9, Unity Day, people nationwide are encouraged to wear orange in support of anti-bullying. On Oct. 15 the base youth center will show military children the film "Bully", which shows the harmful consequences of bullying and ways to prevent it.

Bullying includes physical and verbal attacks, social isolation, and cyber bullying.
Although any child can be bullied, children who are shy, physically small, or have low self-esteem and military dependents are more susceptible.

"Military kids are more likely to be targeted in a new community because they're seen as outsiders," said Ann Lukens, 23d Force Support Squadron school liaison officer.

Victims of bullying may show anxiety and depression, have academic problems and avoid talking about school. Other signs are coming home with bruises, injuries, broken objects or torn clothing.

But Windy Scott, 23d FSS EMFP coordinator, said a one of the best ways to know what's going on in a child's life is to talk.

"A lot of times we ask our children about what they are learning, but we're not taking the time to ask about what's impacting them every day in the classroom," said Scott.
Scott suggests that asking about the best and worst part of their day gives children the opportunity to open up about being bullied.

If a victim admits to being bullied, Scott said it is important parents keep calm and avoid confronting the bully directly.

"We have to realize ... as a parent that our children ... may not bring something to us for fear of our response to the situation," said Scott. "We've got to be able to let them know that we're going to stand beside them to fix the problem without going to an emotional extreme."

An overly emotional response often makes bullying worse, added Lukens.

Instead, Scott suggests parents document the incidents and inform school officials so they can help mitigate the issue. She said they should also continue to check in with victims to see if the bullying has continued.

Although parents and schools often make efforts to eradicate the problem, there are also ways to prevent it.

Scott and Lukens said creating a culture of empathy and acceptance can help bullying from happening in the first place.

"I feel like empathy is one of the biggest things we are lacking today," said Scott. "As a culture we're lacking in teaching children to be accepting of differences."

Scott and Lukens said if as a culture we become more accepting and considerate of others, there would be less bullying.

Scott said other ways to help are participating in bullying prevention month activities and donating time to the many non-profits with the mission of educating the public about bullying.