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Unity Day

Oct 17, 2016|By: Julie Hertzog, Director, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, and Maureen Perkins, Public Health Analyst with the Health Resources and Services Administration and StopBullying.gov Ed Board member
Posted In: Prevention

Unity Day is Wednesday, October 19. PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center started Unity Day in 2011. The purpose of Unity Day is to demonstrate that we are together against bullying. We are united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion of all students.

Get involved! Wear and share the color ORANGE on Unity Day! Join in sending one large ORANGE message of support, hope, and unity so that all students feel safe and supported.

October marks the tenth anniversary of National Bullying Prevention Month, started by PACER Center in 2006.

Preventing bullying of students with disabilities:

4 things parents and educators should know

Did you know that a student with a disability is two to three times more likely to be bullied?  Bullying can affect a student’s physical and emotional health, and it can interfere with a student’s right to receive an education. PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center offers resources for all students, with specific resources for students with disabilities.

What you should know:

1. Language is powerful

What we say and how we say it is important. Disrespectful language about how an individual with a disability looks or acts can send a message that students with disabilities are “less than” than others and perpetuate negative stereotypes. Replace the harmful language by focusing on the strengths and abilities.

How we talk about disabilities is important, too. PACER’s “Person first - PDF” guide helps by recognizing the person first, and then his/her difference or disability.

2. Students have rights

Students with disabilities who are bullied have rights under federal law. According to The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), bullying based on a student’s disability is harassment. Bullying that interferes with a student’s participation in school is also harassment.

3. Helpful resources are available

There are resources to help students with disabilities avoid and respond to bullying. A bullying prevention plan can be part of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) which is developed by a team at the student’s school.  

The IEP team, which includes a parent, can identify bullying prevention strategies. When appropriate, the student should be involved in decisions are bullying prevention that are included in the IEP. PACER offers helpful information - PDF about IEPs and bullying prevention.

4. Students make great advocates for themselves and others

Self-advocacy is when a student expresses his/her wants and needs.  This is important because it involves the student in making decisions about handling a bullying situation. When a student advocates for him or herself, an adult can assist by helping the student learn what his/her rights are.

PACER’s Student Action Plan - PDF is a great self-advocacy resource. It includes three simple steps to address bullying. It helps a student create a plan that fits his/her personal situation.

A peer advocate is a student who advocates for a student with a disability. Peer advocates can help prevent and intervene in bullying situations. Their involvement often leads to increased social inclusion of students with disabilities. PACER offers a guide starting a peer advocacy program in your school or community. The guide includes a helpful video and online toolkit.

PACER’s peer advocacy program helps students learn how:

  • Disability can impact someone’s life
  • To intervene on behalf of students with disabilities
  • To Include students with disabilities in activities and social interaction
  • To use their strengths to advocate for those who are bullied
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