Local city, county, and school officials announced a joint public awareness campaign Tuesday to combat bullying.
Calling the impact of bullying on communities "devastating," Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak said that children can't be effective learners if they feel threatened in school.
"We want to prevent the bullying," Ms. Skeldon-Wozniak said. "We want the schools to feel safe."
Students, faculty, and staff of area schools will be asked to sign anti-bullying pledges, where they will vow to monitor for bullying and support victims, among other promises. Schools also will hold parent-education events and anti-bullying assemblies.
Toledo City Council planned to pass a proclamation supporting the effort. There also will be efforts to increase options for reporting bullying. For example, Oregon police Officer Tim McLeod said that Oregon City Schools plan to unveil a Web site for students to report incidents anonymously.
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, who said he was bullied when he was young, said it is important for parents to be as involved in their children's lives as possible. Bullying can escalate into violence, he said, and reducing bullying can help reduce youth violence.
Lisa Pescara-Kovach, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Toledo who helped craft pledges for the schools, works frequently with parents who have lost children to bullying-related suicide.
"We do see quite a life and death connection to being bullied," she said.
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