Free Virtual Anti-Bullying Event Aims To Fight Rise In Cyberbullying


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – There has been a 70% increase in cyberbullying since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Capital Blue Cross is teaming up with the Girls on the Run organization to change that.

Tuesday at 6 pm there will be a virtual screening of the movie “The Upstanders” that anyone in the community can stream for free.

The documentary is around an hour long and examines important questions, including the science behind cyberbullying, why even victims hide it, and how to help.

It looks at something that many parents don’t want to know or think about: how to tell if your child is a cyberbully.

Capital Blue Cross and Girls on the Run say shedding light on this issue is critical, especially as summer approaches.

An expert discussion will follow the screening to increase understanding of the perspective of the victim, bullies and bystanders.

Social media has given bullies 24/7 access to victims, making it difficult for some to escape.

“Previously, when you were bullied, you had the refuge of your home,” said Jerry Reimenschneider, senior public relations specialist at Capital Blue Cross. “You could at least get by back then, but now we’re connected to our internet devices all the time. “

“50% of girls are bullied in the form of exclusion from events, birthday parties, the lunch table and 3.2 million students are affected by bullying each year,” he said. said Gillian Byerly, Executive Director of Girls on the Run Capital Area.

The film teaches people how to stand up for themselves or someone else and discusses the immense impact it can have on letting someone know they have a friend if they need one.

Dr. Amber Sessoms, who was the School Psychologist at Central Dauphin and who is the PA School Psychologist of the Year, will lead the converstaion after the documentary.

She says educational events help cultivate safe environments.

“You often hear people say, ‘Oh, it’s just kids that are kids,’ and we don’t understand the long term effects of that and it also helps us to disrupt this narrative that ‘kids don’t. are only children, ‘then we can start educating and breaking down the stigma that children feel lonely, ”said Dr Sessoms. “So having conversations like this can really help build a sense of belonging.”

The Upstanders also points out that bullying doesn’t just end once you leave school. It continues throughout life, which makes it even more important for everyone to know how to stop the behavior as soon as they notice it.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has several resources related to bullying.

Girls on the run is organizing a summer camp the week of July 12 that will address these issues through different workshops, conversations and physical activities.

Organizers say self-esteem is a big part of this equation. Information about the camp is available on the organization’s website.

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