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Taking a stand against bullying

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Bedford council member spreading the message

By John Barnhart

Bedford Town Councilman Robert Carson is concerned about bullying and has started a campaign to draw attention to the problem and get people talking about it. He’s begun by distributing buttons that read “I take a stand against bullying!”

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    “Most of the buttons of my first order have gone,” he said. Some have gone as far as Tennessee.
    Bullying can take multiple forms. It can be physical, but it can also be verbal. Carson notes that it’s possible to destroy another person with your words.
    He recalls an incident he saw a short time ago, in front of the library, as an example of verbal bullying. Carson saw a group of teens who started to walk away from the library. As they did, members of the group said to one teen, “You can’t go because you stink.”
    “But he wanted to be a part of the group, so he followed them,” Carson said.
    “I felt sorry for this kid,” he said.
    Carson said he has done a lot of research on bullying. He said that what he’s found indicates bullying is primarily verbal in the elementary school grades. It gets more physical in middle school and is 95 percent physical in high school. Physical bullying often takes the form of shoving or tripping the victim.                                                                                                                                                             Bullying is a serious problem and he noted that there have been cases around the country in which victims have committed suicide, or have killed others. He hopes that his campaign will get people talking about bullying, especially parents.
    “Unless parents take a stand, you’re just beating your head against the wall,”  he said.
    Carson understands that it may be difficult. It can be hard for single parents to get quality time with their children. Parents in two-income families may also have trouble finding time.
    He hopes more parents will find the time to talk with their children. H also urges them to look for signs that something is wrong, such as a youth, who has always been a good student, who suddenly starts to hate school.
    “A lot of them are afraid to talk about it,” Carson said.
    Bullying is a widespread problem, and has been for a long time, as evidenced by the response Carson has been getting from people as he passes these buttons out. Most say that they either were bullied, or knew somebody who was bullied.
    He noted that many people remember being picked on decades out of high school and can imagine a scenario in which a bully grows up, goes to a doctor and discovers that the doctor is one of his former victims.
    “Yeah, I remember you,” the doctor says. “You used to bully me.”
    “That would be a very scary thing,” Carson said.
    Carson, by the way is a playwright. He’s written a dozen plays that have been performed locally and is planning to write one dealing with bullying.
    If you would like some of his buttons, call him at (540) 816-2409.