Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Asheville Army Recruiter Works to Prevent Bullying

North Buncombe Middle School students with Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Athy. The students made the banners after his anti-bullying presentation and the student body signed the banners stating they will stand up together againist bullying. The students pictured are Star Plemmons, Johathan Parker, Megan Treadway, Laney Landeros and Sarah Myer. Photo by student Eakin Howard
The Army's Anti-Bullying Campaign is making an impact..on one family, one school, and one community at a time. Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Athy, Asheville Recruiting Center, watched the campaign video and started a discussion at home. That's how he found his own daughter was being picked on
and bullied for being overweight. "As a father this broke my heart that this was going on and I could not protect my daughter," said Athy. Also during this time, his son began to ask questions after a student at his local middle school committed suicide because of bullying.
"After that, I thought I have a way to help and maybe even change some things," said Athy. "So I took it upon myself to go to the Board of Education and see what I could do." He presented the Army campaign to board members and explained how he wanted to help. "I was welcomed with open arms."

Athy presented Anti-Bullying at four schools this past school year and hopes to attempt presentations in all of the area middle and high schools in the coming school year. "The schools were very receptive to this and opened up."

"Thank you for bringing the Anti-Bullying program to our students at Enka (N.C.) Middle School.  Your presentation and videos were compelling. The emphasis you put on the power of the "bystander" is right in line with what we teach students.  Students were very engaged with your presentation style and personal stories.  Your message reached more than 1,000 young people
throughout the day here at Enka!" said Enka Middle School Counselor Caryl Barga. "We appreciate your time and generosity and commitment to youth."

Athy noted, "After I conducted the presentations, several schools reported a lot of kids were reporting issues that the schools had no idea about and there were kids who reported issues that some of their friends were having at home. It has been very helpful."

Thirty percent of U.S. students in grades six through ten are involved inmoderate or frequent bullying - as bullies, as victims, or as both, according to the website,  bullying is viewed as a strong contributor to youth violence, including homicide and suicide. Bully victims are between 2 and 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University.

Experts agree that the best way to address bullying is to stop it before it starts, which is what Athy is hoping to accomplish with the help of the Army's Anti-Bullying Campaign.



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