In the 1980s, bullying involved never-ending name-calling, passing mean notes and the occasional de-pantsing of a boy in front of the girls. But back then the public humiliation pretty much ended with the school day, as there was no longer a receptive audience.

Fast forward to present and bullying takes on a whole meaning and stretches into 24/7 cyberspace where some go to impress peer groups, uphold reputations or reinforce social hierarchies.

Nationwide 20% of students ages 12-18 have experienced bullying — 15% of whom were bullied online or in text, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice. In fact, research from stopbullying.gov. indicates that 60% of middle schoolers say they having been bullied — the majority either verbally and socially.

Of those surveyed, the most common forms of bullying involved being called names (44.2%), teasing (43.3%) and having rumors or lies spread (36.3%). Pushing or shoving accounted for 32.4%, and 29.2% reported they had been hit, slapped or kicked. Twenty-eight and half percent of respondents said they were left out; 27.4% were threatened; 27.3% had their belongings stolen; and 23.7% had sexual comments or gestures directed at them. Slightly less than 10% reported email or blogging complaints.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and it is time for all people to work toward ending hatred, racism, homophobia and sexism not just in classrooms but in the broader community by raising awareness of the prevalence and impact bullying has on us all.

Last month a Frankfort family had a racial slur written on their vehicle in broad daylight while shopping at a supermarket, according to police. This type of unacceptable behavior should not occur here or anywhere.

It’s time for us all to take a stand against bullying of any kind and be more accepting and inclusive with others who may not look, talk, dress or act like us. We are all different and that should be celebrated, not condemned. The more we embrace that which makes us unique, the more inclusive of a people we will be.

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