DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. -- Be Strong, a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to stopping bullying in schools and society at large, will host the world's largest anti-bullying event today, October 10, at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Working with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the Be Strong LIVE Tour will be attended by up to an estimated 10,000 students and can reach millions of students in Los Angeles and beyond with an online broadcast. In addition, the event will be televised on The California Channel, which has a reach of five million homes. The event begins later today at 10 a.m. PT.
The event will feature remarks by inspirational public speaker and You Tube sensation Nick Vujicic and other guests -- including best-selling author, Broadway performer and motivational speaker Jessie Funk as host and music by the Los Angeles trio, Breaking Heights. The event will generate much-needed attention to the issue, including how to identify and stop bullying and how support is available to help victims of bullying and cyber-bulling.
According to the 2014 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 22 percent of students have been bullied on school property nationwide, 13.9 percent have seriously considered attempting suicide and 10.2 percent of students did not go to school because they felt unsafe.
As part of its effort to provide support to victims of bullying, Be Strong created and maintains the Be Strong app, available for free on iOS or Android and providing a wide range of support for students and families dealing with bullying.
The app includes access to a 24-hour hotline and crisis text line, as well as updated information on social services available in the user's vicinity anywhere in the U.S. Be Strong events such as the one in October in Los Angeles are available live and for free through the Be Strong app.
"Bullying thrives when people don't take action to address this serious social issue," said Ashleigh Cromer, president of Be Strong, which also provides support through innovative tools, resources, education and partnerships. "We can no longer have segmented discussions on this. Rather we must heighten the visibility and impact to ensure that children, parents, grandparents, caregivers, governments, corporations and nonprofits are all participating in the discussion."
Cromer added: "We are dedicated to empowering people, through our tour and all of our activities, to come together to make a difference by elevating a voice for the voiceless and potentially saving the lives of young people across the country."
Since 2015, Be Strong has partnered with over 700 schools and reached over 1.2 million students with its anti-bullying message. This educational message is then paired with tools, in-school training and Be Strong school clubs that help ensure the sustainability of efforts by students, parents, teachers and administrators. The organization's 2015 engagements in Florida resulted in an 83 percent positive change reported in students' behavior and 86 percent of those surveyed identified bullying as a top five issue in schools.
"When schools take the time to implement research-based programming in this area, not only does it decrease bullying and cyberbullying – it also accomplishes the goals that educators care most about," says Dr. Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. "Specifically, these efforts lead to a positive school climate, which then increases academic achievement, lowers absenteeism and truancy, reduces other problem behaviors on campus, and raises morale among both students and staff. I fully support the mission and impact of the Be Strong movement."
That message is echoed by James T. Butts, mayor of Inglewood, California, home of The Forum, and Mitch Kupchak, general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers.
"One of every four students reports being bullied during the school year. School-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25 percent," said Butts. "It is vitally important that parents and teachers join forces to set a social environment that eliminates the psychological and physical impacts that result from bullying. Studies reveal a correlation between absenteeism and academic performance in environments where bullying goes unchecked. It is up to all of us to make our schools 'Bully-Free' zones."
Added Kupchak: "The Lakers believe in inclusivity. We use basketball to bring together all members of our community. We are proud to partner with Be Strong in their efforts to make our schools inclusive places where all Los Angeles kids can feel safe."
The Be Strong LIVE tour is supported by Be Strong Stop Bullying, Bullying.org, City of Inglewood Mayor's Office, Grand Canyon University, The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors and Los Angeles Office of Education, Los Angeles Lakers and I Like Giving.