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Anti-bullying presentation points to "serious issue"
Bullying is a serious and widespread issue plaguing schools and playgrounds nationwide and in the Yuma area. According to stompoutbullying.com, one in four children is bullied and up to 43 percent of students have been bullied while online.
“This stuff happens at a really young age,” Ashley Vicks, Miss Yuma County 2013, said during a special anti-bullying presentation Tuesday afternoon at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club.
The presentation was held in observance of Good Citizen Month, which city of Yuma Mayor Al Krieger declared be held this January.
Vicks, now a confident young woman, was bullied in both junior high and high school. However, she was able to transcend the negativity and has devoted herself to helping others who are facing similar obstacles.
“Bullying is a very serious issue, and I am very passionate about stopping it,” she said.
Vicks wants to establish a mentorship program through the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA by pairing up students “that are bullied and that bully with a ‘big brother' or ‘big sister' because they just genuinely need value placed upon them and self-esteem to grow inside of them,” she said.
“When they have that confidence, they are not going to bully. They are not going to feel like they are worthless and don't have a purpose.”
Krieger spoke to the children about the importance of kindness and friendship.
“We are all human beings,” he said. “We have to look out for each other. Sometimes there are some bad people out there. I want you to think about taking care of yourself and looking out for your friends.”
Krieger encouraged each child in attendance to report any instances of bullying.
The adults “care about you, and I care about you,” he said.
Terre Munk, special events coordinator for the Salvation Army in Yuma, said it is the goal of the Boys and Girls Club to teach children to be kind to one another and to work together to eliminate bullying.
“We promote positiveness, speaking kindly to each other, building each other up and taking care of each other.”
Munk hopes each child will take the positive message they received during the event to heart.
“If a child can be a productive citizen, we want to encourage that,” she said. “We want to build up the stability of their minds and bodies, both here at the Club and out in society.”