Unity Day focuses on kindness and inclusiveness, CFPA encourages solidarity in schools

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Community members are encouraged to wear orange Wednesday, Oct. 20 for “Unity Day” 2021.

The anti-bullying campaign, which started in 2011, uses the color because it is associated with safety.

According to the Center for Prevention of Abuse (CFPA) in Peoria, one in five children are bullied at school, but about two-thirds of those bullied do not tell an adult.

CFPA Director of Prevention Education Laura Kowalske said they encourage schools to participate in Unity Day.

“Unity Day really is a time set aside for everyone to be extra mindful of kindness, inclusiveness, and acceptance,” Kowalske said.

She said they offer in-school programs with some Central Illinois districts, and that the “kids will be kids” mentality needs to change.

“Many times we think of bullying as being sort of a rite of passage for children, and we really want to make sure that the community knows it doesn’t have to be, that we wish to stop bullying before it starts,” she said.

She said bullying in general has evolved.

“Originally, of course, bullying was mostly physical or emotional, verbal altercations. Name-calling, gossiping, that sort of thing,” Kowalske said. “But technology has really brought another avenue to bullying.” 

Kowalske said students need to maintain healthy boundaries, particularly online. She said this prevents bullying, but also predators.

She also said adults in children’s lives need to keep a conversation going about bullying.

“I think the most important thing adults can do is really listen to the child that’s sharing about their bullying incident with them, and then really doing something to be helpful. That ‘something’ that can be helpful is really dependent upon what the child wishes,” Kowalske said.

Below is a list of resources for students and parents:

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