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Anti-bullying program to kick off at Riverview High School

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During the regular meeting of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners on Oct. 3, Commissioner Sandra Murman read a proclamation stating that October would be set aside as National Bullying Prevention Month in Hillsborough County.

By Mitch Traphagen

TAMPA - During the regular meeting of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners on Oct. 3, Commissioner Sandra Murman read a proclamation stating that October would be set aside as National Bullying Prevention Month in Hillsborough County. She also provided a status update on the county’s anti-bullying project, now in its third year.

According to Murman, an anti-bullying advisory committee began with former commissioner Rose Ferlita in January of 2010. The resulting youth program, Bully Busters, has since won five national and multiple state and local awards. The second phase of the project will partner with Hillsborough County Schools, beginning at Riverview High School on Oct. 19. At the beginning of the school year, seven have formed clubs known as SAVE, Students Against Violence Everywhere. Today the number of clubs is up to 14.

“Our momentum right now for anti-bullying is really picking up, and as other schools learn about SAVE, the word is spreading,” Commissioner Murman told the board. “This is a real significant achievement in such a short period of time of a little over two and a half years. It was my dream that we would have anti-bullying [efforts] present in all of the middle schools and high schools in Hillsborough County.”

Dr. Tom Massey of the University of South Florida and the chair of the anti-bullying advisory committee said, “Research suggests that as many as 30 percent of children either witness or experience bullying on a regular basis. Since the advent of electronic media, cyber bullying is a rising concern, and so bullying extends beyond the school and into the individual youths’ homes. [Combating] this is very much a community effort, it’s beyond the schools and into the community where it needs to be.”

The Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office are also members of the advisory board. During the meeting, Commissioner Murman pointed out that the award-winning program does not involve the use of tax dollars.

For information about the national SAVE program, visit www.nationalsave.org

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