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:
- Facebook and Time Warner are joining forces to address cyberbullying: Facebook and Time Warner join forces
- CBS recently aired an hour long special about the state of bullying in US schools that was quite an eye opener: Bullying: Words Can Kill
- Sesame Street is even getting involved with younger kids with a new video and antibullying activities: Sesame Street: Stop Bullying
- Philadelphia Eagles’ Player DeSean Jackson is working with a LA based non-profit to create an antibullying curriculum: DeSean Jackson – Antibullying Curriculum
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?