Overall, reports show that bullying among children in the United States is dropping. However, kids with disabilities are still twice as likely to experience bullying, according to the National Bullying Prevention Center. October is National Bullying Prevention Month and Shriners Hospitals for Children is teaming up with award-winning actor, former patient and bullying survivor, RJ Mitte to combat bullying.
According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, bullying can cause depression, anxiety and other health problems, as well as poor academic performance. As part of the national #CutTheBull campaign, free resources for patients and the public are available at cutthebull.org. Public service announcements, a social media challenge, tip cards and an anti-bullying ambassador tool kit can help kids and adults #SeeTheAbility in all people.
“Growing up, my disability made me a target for bullies,” said Mitte, who has cerebral palsy. “I was harassed, knocked down and even had my hand broken. Now, I have an opportunity to give a voice to people with disabilities and promote acceptance.”
Like Mitte, many Shriners Hospitals patients have scars or physical differences that put them at greater risk for being bullied. As part of their ongoing care plans, staff at Shriners Hospitals across the nation offer various empowerment programs to help patients succeed socially and emotionally.
Shriners Hospitals for Children provides specialty pediatric care for children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate, regardless of the families’ ability to pay. Shriners Hospitals also offers psychological support, rehabilitation, life skills training and community outreach programs that help children with physical differences feel confident.
“Our goal is to help our patients succeed and reach beyond the traditional limits of their conditions,” said Gary Bergenske, chairman of the Board of Directors at Shriners Hospitals for Children. “We do this at Shriners Hospitals every day. This campaign gives us a chance to reach outside our hospitals to help all people see beyond physical appearances to the ability that lies within each child.”
The #CutTheBull public service announcement featuring Mitte and other Shriners Hospitals for Children patients is available at vimeo.com/139286381.