TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Bullying is damaging. Something Spencer Amsellem knows all about. At 13-years-old, Amsellem recalls times throughout his middle, and even elementary school years, he was bullied.
"I was just called names and people put me down and didn't include me in fun activities that I always wanted to be in," says Amsellem. "I was very very upset. Some days I would come home crying and it really made me sad."
One in four students is bullied, and students with disabilities are bullied two to three times more than their peers, according to the director of Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Center.
It's a problem in every school in every state.
"Bullying is probably of all the things that we see, bullying is probably number one," states Family Therapist Jane Marks, "because bullying, from a group standpoint, can be so toxic for the object of whoever they are bullying."
Its why National Bullying Prevention Month was first created, to raise awareness and change the culture surrounding a growing problem.
"This is a topic we need to be paying attention to, that it impacts at least 1 out of every 4 students at school," explains PACER Executive Director Julie Hertzog, "And so we want to make sure kids know that they're not alone, that they have somebody here for them, and that we're talking about the issue in a positive way and changing behaviors in helping kids become advocates for each other."
The movement has caught on, with students, schools and communities across the world uniting together, encouraging people, like Amsellem, to take action. He held a 5K race titled Spencer's Run Against Bullying. 250 people participated and he raised $16,000 for bullying prevention efforts.
"The event went really really well," says Amsellem. "I was so surprised to see so many people come and participate and cheer me on and in my race."
Bullying awareness and prevention doesn't stop when the month ends. For more information about the initiative, visit http://www.pacer.org/bullying.
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