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Bullying Prevention Month: It doesn't have to be a bummer!

The statistics outlining the prevalence and frequency of bullying in our schools and communities are disturbing. The constant stream of news coverage about individuals and families devastated by bullying can make the issue seem overwhelming and out of control. Stories of physical violence and threatening behaviors can certainly make it feel like bullying prevention is a task reserved for school administrators and law enforcement officials. But bullying isn't just about punches thrown and threats made, it's about the ways our children fundamentally treat each other - little actions that can have large consequences. Little actions that we can all work to change. For this year's Bullying Prevention Month, House Party has partnered with The Jed Foundation's Love is Louder movement. Instead of bumming you out with statistics about how bad things are, throughout October we're going to educate and empower you as to how you and your family can help prevent bullying and create more inclusive communities - all while having a bit of House Party fun with it, of course! So, let's get started...

It's more than sticks and stones: Bullying isn't just about violence. The nature of bullying is much more expansive. It can also be verbal and emotional. It can happen face-to-face, through rumors and gossip, and even online. Any of our words and actions can contribute to making someone feel mistreated, not accepted or not good enough. In other words, bullied. That means everyone can make changes and take action to make our schools and communities more inclusive and supportive places for all children.

It doesn't make anyone feel better: It's true that some people may be cruel to others as a way of making themselves feel superior. However, there's no good research that shows inflicting power over others actually makes you feel any better. However, there are reams of research that show doing good and being kind can actually make you feel better and decrease depression or anxiety. So, when we help those in our family use their actions to help instead of hurt, we aren't simply eliminating possible victims, we're improving their emotional health.

It isn't always about what's happening to us: Here's the truth - how bullying or mistreatment affects an individual has as much to do with what's going on inside their head as what's going on around them. If we perceive ourselves as outsiders and feel insecure, any comment or action that validates those feelings is going to have a major impact on our psyches and self-esteem. A mistake we often make is assuming that if we can stop mean behaviors, we can end the pain children feel. Of equal importance, though is the need for us (whether family, friends or acquaintances) to encourage the individual to embrace their unique strengths, be more resilient in the face of adversity and focus on the positive supportive voices in their lives instead of the negative ones. So, while we're working to eliminate the bad happening around us, we can also "turn up" the positive influences within ourselves.

It's not just a kid thing: You probably don't have to think for too long to pinpoint mistreatment or bullying behaviors that happen in your workplace, neighborhood or community. Putting other people down, spreading rumors and letting our anger get the best of us are all things that happen across age ranges and demographics. But, it doesn't have to. One way we can work to prevent bullying in our children's world is to eliminate it in our own adult arena.

The Love is Louder movement is all about how we can use our words and actions to help others and support anyone who feels mistreated, alone or hopeless. It's also about how we can empower ourselves by focusing on the positive and choosing healthier ways to cope with tough times and experiences. The video below is a great intro to the movement and features actress Brittany Snow, the Love Is Louder spokesperson, among many other celebrities you're likely to recognize. So, check it out and stay tuned for more, since we'll be giving you opportunities throughout the month to use the Love is Louder movement to make a difference for yourself, your family and your community. The team here at House Party is excited and emboldened to spread the word on how easy it is to make a difference in our respective communities. Join us this month and beyond to ensure the voice of love truly is louder!

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']#[/author_image] [author_info]Courtney Knowles is the Director of Love is Louder. He splits his time between New Orleans and New York City. When not traveling for work, he tries to keep up with his two nine-month-old puppies and control his obsession with throwing theme parties. Party Tip: Have a theme, never run out of ice or cups, and beware of glitter (it seems like a good idea until it's still there five years later).[/author_info] [/author]

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