When I was around 12 or 13, I desperately wanted to go trick-or-treating, but I felt too old for the plastic Halloween bucket I had used when I was younger. My friends suggested sending away for UNICEF boxes so we could go trick-or-treating with a purpose. And so we went out that year, dressed as the cast of Daria, collecting spare change for UNICEF, even though I was not very aware at the time of what UNICEF did in the world. At that age, the fundraising cause wasn't necessarily important to me. But, had I been trick-or-treating to change my own community, I might have been more aware and involved.
Many organizations nationwide now recognize October, the month of Halloween, as Bullying Prevention Month, when youth, parents and educators across the country are spreading the word about the need for bullying prevention. Why not combine this effort with Halloween to get even more people involved in helping to prevent bullying at home, at school and in their community?
To make just that happen, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights' bullying prevention initiative, RFK Project SEATBELT, teamed with STOMP Out Bullying and Submit the Documentary to launch the Trick-Or-Treat for Bullying Prevention Campaign. The campaign offers youth nationwide a way to go out trick-or-treating on Halloween night while at the same time engaging their community, by handing out cards asking for parents and community members to sign a pledge to prevent bullying.
Through the Trick-or-Treat Campaign, kids have a way to stand up against an issue that affects them while doing something that can to boost awareness in the community. The community that collects the most signatures (weighted by population) will win a special event to kick-start the community's bullying prevention efforts, featuring bullying experts, helpful resources, and a screening of Submit the Documentary. Participating youth from the winning community will also win t-shirts and posters.
The year I went out trick-or-treating dressed as Jane from Daria was the very year that I faced the most bullying and social exclusion from my peers. My experience with bullying in middle school is far from unique. Bullying remains a big issue for children and teens in the United States. According to the latest statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics nearly 28 percent of youth age 12-18 experienced some form of bullying last year. That's not even counting the nearly three in four youth who witness bullying on a regular basis. Bullying is an issue that all youth can identify with and often want to help prevent, but aren't sure where to start.
Get involved in the Trick-or-Treat campaign by signing the pledge and helping kids trick-or-treat with a purpose this year by handing out pledge cards to friends and neighbors. Working together, we can prevent bullying.