We all know bullying is a problem. This local organization is showing all of us — from parents to teachers to students — how we can each make an effort to solve it.

By Alissa Boyle
Photo courtesy Teach Anti-Bullying

Aston Day 2

Bullying is not at all uncommon.

Unfortunately often we hear about incidents only when it’s too late. Perhaps something big happens in our neighborhood schools or in our community or in a town far away and suddenly, bullying comes to the forefront of everybody’s minds again.

For kids who are bullied, though, and their families, it’s not something that disappears. This is their life – every single day.

That’s what Dr. Claudio V. Cerullo and his team are working on tirelessly to change.

In November 2011, after being approached by concerned parents, Cerullo took $10,000 from his own pocket and his extensive experience with bullying prevention and anti-violence intervention and founded Teach Anti-Bullying, Inc. or TAB. He has worked to raise awareness and support families impacted by bully-related issues in their school or community ever since.

Representatives from Teach Anti-Bullying have visited schools and community organizations to speak on bullying. They have also addressed bullying in the workplace and provide anti-bullying training for employees. The group provides online support for children and their families. TAB representatives have even served as expert witnesses in anti-bullying cases and worked with families who need advocates in school IEP meetings.

Daniela Redpath, vice president of Teach Anti-Bullying, Inc., has also been at the forefront of this important work. In the first year of the organization’s existence – the first year alone – the group booked more than two dozen presentations to more than 1,000 parents, more than 1,000 educators and professionals, and more than 2,000 students in the greater Philadelphia region.

But their work is far from over, according to Redpath, who sees the effects of bullying firsthand as a parent of a child on the autism spectrum who has experienced bullying at school.

Children with special needs are at much higher risk for bullying than non-special needs students, says Redpath. Specifically, 62 percent of students with hidden disabilities are victimized, as opposed to 27 percent of students without those hidden disabilities, according to a 2011 CDC study. Hidden disabilities can include Aspergers, ADHD, and learning disabilities, among others.

What can you do in your own home to be aware of and to help prevent bullying? Be engaged and proactive, says Redpath. “Sit down with your child at night,” she says. “Ask who they played with at recess and what they played. Ask all the questions, not just ‘how was your day.’ Make a conversation with your child.”

There are four types of warning signs for bullying that parents can watch for in their own kids, including physical, emotional, academic, and behavioral. Physical signs include missing possessions or unexplained injuries, while emotional signs include aggression or depression. Academic signs can be a drop in grades and behavioral signs can include withdrawal or changing routine habits (i.e. your child suddenly wanting to rides to and from school, if he or she previously walked).

The group is currently working closely with Rep. Dan Truitt of West Chester on the PASS (Pennsylvania Safe Schools) Act. Dr. Cerullo spoke on the House floor in support of the Act. If the bill passes, it would “require clearer definitions, follow-up requirements and an online system for recording, tracking and reporting incidents of bullying in PA schools,” according to Truitt’s website. “Every school has to have a policy [on anti-bullying], but it’s not always enforced,” Redpath says.

The bill would also mandate that all teachers complete anti-bullying training every five years.

“This is a collaborative effort,” says Redpath. “If we don’t have everyone on board – teachers, parents, law enforcement, the community – then we’re fighting a battle that’s not going to be won.”

How to get involved:

If you’d like to get involved with Teach Anti-Bullying, Inc., you can donate online or via mail (P.O. Box 1716, Havertown PA), volunteer, book a school assembly or speaking engagement on bullying, or join their cause on causes.com (for free) to help show your support.

Or join Teach Anti-Bullying at their upcoming fundraising event:

Teach Anti-Bullying, Inc. 1st Annual Fundraiser
Maloney’s Pub & Restaurant
2626 County Line Road, Ardmore, PA
Saturday, April 13, 2013
7 to 11 pm
Join them for a 2-hour open bar and light buffet from 7-9 pm and a “bid and buy” and 50/50 all evening. Proceeds go to educational resources and advocacy.