‘Think, Don’t Fight’ project starts in schools

October 2014…Healthy NewsWorks is launching a new initiative during the 2014-15 school year to explore the causes, effects, and ways to prevent bullying.

The “Think, Don’t Fight” project will focus on such topics as:

• What is bullying?
• Resilience: What kinds of skills or tactics help people overcome adversity?
• Stress: What is the physical toll of bullying?
• Empathy: How to put yourself in another’s shoes, and what that can mean for preventing bullying.

According to a 2009 survey by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of all high schoolers had been bullied on school property in the last year. In another survey, 25% of public schools reported bullying incidents on a daily or weekly basis, with middle schools reporting more incidents than primary or high schools.

Input from teachers and the Healthy NewsWorks Medical and Scientific Advisory Board solidified this year’s focus on the physical and mental health attributes of bullying.

Sleeplessness and stress are two of the physical consequences of bullying, according to Andrea Kenyon, Healthy NewsWorks health literacy consultant. “I think it’s an important concept for the kids to understand, it isn’t just on a surface level that it’s bad to be angry at someone and to tease them,” she said. “It’s also harmful to their mental health as well as their physical health.”

Student journalists will produce pieces on bullying for their school newspapers, create a public service announcement on bullying, and participate in a poster contest to depict “Acts of Kindness.”

—Laura Benshoff


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