Crime Watch

Crime Watch: Florida educators are learning to fight bullying

 

Special to The Miami Herald

Thirty percent of American youths are either a bully or target of bullying. Fourty-one percent of teachers witness bullying more than once a day, but only 4 percent intervene when it occurs.

Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County attended the 2014 National Conference on Bullying last month in Orlando. The conference was hosted by the School Safety Advocacy Council and was attended by school administrators, counselors, teachers, crime-prevention practitioners, and law-enforcement agencies. Attendees came from many parts of the United States and also from Canada and Iceland.

Various bullying prevention experts conducted breakout sessions on the wide spectrum of bullying and cyberbullying prevention. We saw a dramatic presentation based on the book Bullycide in America , written by mothers who have lost a child due to bullying. Other standout sessions included motivational speaker Rick Rigsby’s riveting presentation on “making an impact that creates change,” youth motivational speaker Josh Drean’s electric presentation focusing in incorporating empathy and resiliency in bullying prevention, and Lt. Tim Enos’ magnetic presentation on the dangers of social networking in correlation with cyberbullying.

There was a big emphasis on raising awareness and changing attitude to change the culture. The most effective way to end the bullying epidemic starts at home. Our Youth Crime Watch program will incorporate the education obtained in the conference in our bullying/cyberbullying prevention curriculum. Our Youth Crime Watch program conducts close to 100 presentations in the Miami-Dade schools each year, and many of our YCW school programs (clubs) coordinate bullying & cyberbullying prevention campaigns throughout the school year. Youth Crime Watch of Miami-Dade provides the YCW student members the bullying/cyberbullying prevention materials and training for YCW student members to educate their peers on bullying/cyberbullying prevention.

One of the premier themes throughout the conference was “unleashing the hero within,” and it was very applicable because educating, engaging, and empowering our youth to prevent bullying with evidence-based prevention techniques can unleash heroes to fight the epidemics that are bullying and cyberbullying.

Congressional contacts

Last week, regarding Medicare using your Social Security number as your identification, I told you I would give you contact information for your members of Congress. So here they are: Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart – 305-470-8555; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — 305-668-2285; Rep. Frederica Wilson — 305-690-5905; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz — 305-936-5724; Rep. Joe Garcia — 305-222-0160; Sen. Bill Nelson — 305-536-5999; Sen. Marco Rubio — 305-418-8553.

I suggest you call your representatives regarding this very important issue. Remind them that Florida is the Fraud Capital of the United States and a change is needed now. This week I received 17 emails from seniors that had their Social Security numbers stolen. As the FBI points out, carrying your Social Security number is a bad idea. But seniors need their Medicare cards to get services. The solution is for Medicare to stop using Social Security numbers as Medicare identification numbers.

If we can get Congress to change this method I think we will surely see a reduction in identity theft. So please make those calls, and even if you are not a senior, you should help out here. Remember, together we can make a change.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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