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FISHING TO STOP BULLYING!

So here we are, mid-way through National Bullying Prevention Month and instead of answering a question for you, I’m the one asking the question this time.  What are you doing to prevent or stop bullying?  Let me tell you some things I’ve learned recently that others are doing:

And that’s just a small sample.  Call me a fish out of water, but in St. Augustine, FL this weekend, a generous group, led by Your Jacksonville Area Lexus Dealers, sponsored the annual El Pescado Billfish Tournament where anglers were fishing to raise money for the Monique Burr Foundation for Children, Inc. to implement our Speak Up Be Safe™ safety and child abuse prevention program.  The goal is to teach all 1st through 5th grade students in the state of Florida by the year 2015 to get involved and stop bullying!  So that’s what a great group of anglers did this weekend, that was their contribution to National Bullying Prevention Month… Fishing to Stop Bullying!

But does prevention work? Let’s look at the numbers… okay with the caveat these are just my rudimentary calculations, and remember I’m a social worker, not a math major, but consider for a moment that the state of Florida currently houses 102,319 prisoners at a cost of 19,469 each year.*  Because we know many bullies grow up to commit crimes, it is not unreasonable to think at least 15% of prisoners were childhood bullies (it’s probably higher, but I’m trying to be conservative here.)  We know the total Florida spends annually to house inmates is $1,992,048,611 and we can probably say that 15% of that is spent on prisoners who were childhood bullies. That would be $298,807,292.

In other words, conservatively speaking, Florida is spending almost $300 million a year to incarcerate childhood bullies that might not otherwise have turned to crime if we could have stopped them from bullying others and cared for them in the ways they needed as children before they turned to criminal behaviors.

Would $300 million be better spent on prevention (or even a fraction of that money)?  Speak Up Be Safe™ can be offered to every elementary school student in the state of Florida for right around $1.00 per child per year, or $1.5 million, saving the state millions of dollars annually!

But more than that, saving the children… countless hours of suffering, countless physical and emotional wounds, long-term damage and consequences that impact society financially and socially for decades to come.

We are failing our children, and we must do better.  This weekend a group of anglers and sponsors stepped up by Fishing to Stop Bullying.  Now let me ask you – What are you going to do with the remainder of National Bullying Prevention Month to turn the tide for Florida’s children?

*http://www.dc.state.fl.us/oth/Quickfacts.html

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The MBF Teen Safety Matters curriculum hosts an in-depth approach to important social and safety concerns relevant to youth. The program content is age-appropriate with engaging activities, jargon, and realistic situations to positively promote a relatable and impacting learning experience…Teen Safety Matters is an educational benefit to all parties involved – students, parents, facilitators, and schools.

The MBF Child Safety Matters program is impressive. This important information is well formulated and well presented, developmentally appropriate, and based on good understanding of literature.

There’s not a child in the world who can’t benefit from this program. There are so many instances where we see children who have been damaged and hurt. Things happened to them and we think, if they’d only had this program, if they’d only had the benefit of this education, that might not have happened to them. If we can prevent that from happening to a single child, then it’s worth all the effort we have put forth.