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Lehigh Valley

Empowerment against bullying

Empowerment against bullying

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - An apparent bullying situation at an Allentown high school that was caught on camera and posted online is a very public reminder of what students can encounter.

Three teenagers are now facing charges in connection with the incident.

"It's difficult to watch, it's sad," said Nicole Seng, an outreach educator with the Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley.

Bullying is one of several issues she addresses with students of all ages.

"A lot of what we talk about to victims of all of the crimes is empowerment and advocacy for themselves," she said.

Seng encourages students to be aware of the resources available to them, such as a trusted adult.

If they fear they may become a bully's target, she said, "Seek support from other friends, power in numbers."

If someone is getting physically bullied, Seng says safety first and to try to get out of the situation.

If it's cyber or verbal bullying, she says to not respond.

"It's hard because the kids, they want to fight back, they want to say something back, but many times that escalates the situation," she said, noting that responding gives bullies the power they are seeking.

Seng explained bystanders actually have the most power of all.

"That's really what we're trying to focus on is that bystander intervention. About 80 percent of students are bystanders," she said. "They have the power to step in, to intervene, to help report, to support the victim or to try to deescalate the bully if it's a safe situation to do so."

She added, "The impact of bullying is just so severe on these children that they're really potentially saving someone's life."

Seng also encourages victims to document bullying situations, which can be easier with cyber bullying because they can simply print out a page. For situations in person, she recommends writing down notes to help when reporting it.

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