The Fight Against Bullying in the Valley

By: Janelle Lilley Email
By: Janelle Lilley Email

President Barack Obama and other national figures are speaking out against bullying, and the issue has received quite a bit of attention in the Valley.

The Concern Hotline serves people from Winchester to Page and Shenandoah counties who need to talk about any difficult issue they may be facing.

The fact that it's local is part of the appeal, says Executive Director Christine Mayman.

"To talk to somebody who has grown up in an area as comparatively isolated as Shenandoah County or Page County makes a difference in how they talk to you and how you can engage with them," explains Mayman.

For many teen victims of bullying, an anonymous phone call is also less threatening than talking to a parent or counselor.

"Maybe the issue they have is so intensely private or shameful or whatever that they don't want to talk to somebody that they have to see again," says Mayman.

The hotline has been working with Shenandoah County Schools to come up with a new way reach teen victims.

Right now, less than ten percent of calls come from teens, but many teens are victims of cyber-bullying.

Because internet access on phones allows cyber-bullying to be nearly anywhere, the Concern Hotline has been inspired to be everywhere as well.

"I've been thinking about ways we can meet them where they are, which is online which is electronically," adds Mayman.

Concern is considering Facebook, Twitter and text messages in the hope that becoming available in those formats will give teens another safe place to share and get advice.

Across the Valley, in Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County, the Office on Youth has also been recently involved in anti-bullying campaigns.

Representatives spoke at several local schools, teaching kids what it means to bully someone and that many students take part without even knowing it.

Workers say bullying is a common issue in Valley schools and being proactive and recognizing that everyone is responsible to stop it is the first step toward ending it.

"The problem is the whole environment, and the bully might be the first person that makes the comment, but then there's everyone around that buys into it and laughs and ignores it," says Diane Kellogg.


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