UNICEF Report: School Bullying Is Rampant Worldwide

Bullying is worse, not better. But there is hope. 

UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, just released a major report on childhood bullying worldwide. It found that about half of children ages 13 to 15 throughout the globe say they have experienced peer-to-peer violence in and around school. That's 150 million kids. As one UNICEF official who contributed to the report said, "Schools are not as safe as they should be because of bullying, because of corporal punishment by teachers, because of attacks on schools." The report adds that the estimated monetary cost of violence against children in all countries is $7 trillion.

However, the same UNICEF official noted that more children are speaking out against bullying and more teachers are being trained to deal with it. "We have reasons to be optimistic that violence will be recognized as a problem in schools and addressed soon," she said. Self-reported peer violence stands at around 50% in most of the nations studied -- with the U.S. rate slightly lower at 48%. The report is based on data from 122 countries, which are home to 51% of the world's population of children ages 13 to 15.

At the Humanity Project, we see this major report as more proof of the need for increased efforts of all kinds to stop school bullying. We have sensed a growing misunderstanding of the issue in the United States in recent months, a feeling that the serious problem of school bullying is less common now than before. Some folks seem to feel we've won that war. In fact, school bullying is more common today, according to U.S.-based studies and anecdotal reports. These include recent discussions by Humanity Project officials with school administrators, teachers and counselors. LGBTQ students are among the most frequent targets, a school population that is disproportionately bullied. The Southern Poverty Law Center says research consistently shows that “virtually every LGBT student experiences bullying at school.”

The Humanity Project's acclaimed Antibullying Through The Arts and Humanity Club programs have been shown to be effective in helping to curb school bullying -- but in the past several months, we have received somewhat less funding than in 2017 to deliver these free programs to schools and organizations that need them. In light of the new UNICEF report, we are hopeful these funds will be restored soon as more people recognize that bullying hasn't ended in the schools. And that our work as a society to stop school bullying is far, far from over. 

Did You Know ... (Some surprising facts about us)

We are very proud of our organization. The Humanity Project helps kids to help kids (and sometimes parents) through our innovative programs that teach respect in many areas of daily life, including at school, at home and on the road. But did you know these cool facts about the Humanity Project?

  • We are almost 13-years-old! (November is our birthday.)
  • Our Board of Directors and Leadership Council both boast folks with some impressive experience! (See for yourself by opening the "Meet The Team" tab on our website menu.)
  • We created, organized and led the nation's first mass children's march against bullying! (Yep, November 2008. Here's a link to a video that shows the amazing event: Watch the video!)
  • We have nine active social media pages, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube!
  • In addition to our main website, we also operate two more websites, with a third on the way! (www.thehumanityproject.com/icare ... www.thp4kids.com ... and soon a website just for parents of teen drivers.)
  • Our thp4kids site includes a 24-hour professionally staffed hotline in partnership with organizations such as Covenant House and Boys Town!
  • Our sponsors are loyal year after year and include many significant organizations from the business and nonprofit worlds, including State Farm, Google, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Our Fund, Children's Services Council of Broward County and many others! 
  • We have a PeacePage on our website with contributions from nonprofits and individuals on every continent, including Antarctica! It beautifully conveys real aspects of our common humanity: Visit the PeacePage.
  • We teach the importance of respect, diversity and self-worth through arts-based programs, each with all-original materials including music, videos, roleplaying, games and other engaging elements!

There's much more to know about the Humanity Project. But we thought these tidbits might be of interest for now. We encourage you to explore our websites and social media -- and to learn more about our free programs. And please consider joining our efforts to make this world a more respectful place. 

Welcoming Our Latest Sponsor

Today we officially welcome our new sponsor, Bennett Intellectual Property. The community-minded owner is attorney Allen F. Bennett and, as you might assume, his specialty is intellectual property law. We are very glad Allen has joined our growing family of impressive sponsors.

Allen is the reason that the Humanity Project is now the Humanity Project® ... That small R in the center of a circle actually is a very big deal. It means that our name is formally protected under U.S. trademark law -- and no one can use it without our permission. We are THE Humanity Project from now on. Allen Bennett handled this important legal case for us pro bono and so joined the Humanity Project family. 

We surely can recommend Allen's work. He was efficient and effective as our representative as well as unfailingly pleasant in all our interactions. He got the job done right and got it done as quickly as possible. What more can you ask of a lawyer? So yes, we welcome Allen F. Bennett, Attorney at Law, to the Humanity Project® , We are proud to have him on our side. 

Back To School!

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Just look at those happy kids! Wouldn't it be lovely if all children could feel this way? At the Humanity Project, helping children to live healthy, happy and productive lives is our mission. And much of our work happens in the schools. 

Even before the 2018-19 school year has started, the Humanity Project has been in South Florida schools in a big way. This includes our August 2nd Back-to-School event at Morrow Elementary School, where we'll work to create an environment of respect among all students throughout this academic year. The Morrow event was a huge success, sponsored by our good friends at Children's Services Council of Broward County. Just check out some of the photos, most of them taken by our own Leadership Council member, Keith Spencer. Thanks, Keith, CSC Broward, Morrow Elementary -- and the dozen or so Humanity Project staffers and volunteers who helped out. We can't wait for the first school bell of 2018 to ring!

A very happy child ... 

Hundreds of kids and parents attended the big Morrow event

Some sticky fun for kids

One of the wonderful families at Morrow

Our "Relay 4 Respect" at Morrow Elementary

Respect, At Our Core

Respect is at the center of everything the Humanity Project does, at the core of all we try to offer kids and parents. If you look over our home page carefully, you'll find respect among our three stated organizational values: Respect. Diversity. Self-worth. 

And when you stop to think about those three concepts, they all amount to the same thing in a way. Both an appreciation of diversity and an embrace of self-worth also require respect at their foundation. To seek diversity first requires respecting other individuals, other groups, other nations. We must understand the importance of seeking out the experiences of a wide variety of people from many places and many backgrounds. Similarly, self-worth obviously is just another form of respect. Respect for ourselves, our intrinsic value as individual human beings. 

When you put the three values together as we do at the Humanity Project, they provide the basis for action that promotes and teaches respect in all its forms.  Respect, as a key to improving life for everyone on Planet Earth. We hope you'll join our work by contacting us to express support. Or by volunteering with us. By starting a Humanity Project chapter in your community, maybe. Or by donating to our important efforts. Respect is the value at our core here at the Humanity Project, underlying all our free programs and free materials. Take a look for yourself by exploring this website. Then, please, help us spread the word ...

Our Fund: A Cause For Hope

Some hope is much needed at the moment. Many days the world can appear in utter chaos. And here at home our nation struggles with deep political divisions: we witness attacks on LGBTQ rights, we watch authorities separating children from immigrant parents, we hear politicians raising serious doubts about news accounts that are highly accurate. And much more. It's easy to wonder if there are as many good people as in the past, the folks who are truly focused on making our society more compassionate and just. 

There are. That's the good news -- and yes, you can believe us.

A case in point is the amazing LGBTQ community foundation, Our Fund. This fine organization works daily to get adequate funding for important causes that benefit the LGBTQ community. These causes include the Humanity Project. Our Antibullying Through The Arts and Humanity Club programs directly help LGBTQ youth by preventing bullying in and out of school. You see, LGBTQ youth are disproportionately bullied, far more as a group than most other populations of kids. And this emotional and physical violence has an enormous effect on those children later in life, as studies repeatedly have shown. 

Our Fund's great CEO, David Jobin, and his talented team are working with the Humanity Project to help change this situation, improving life for many LGBTQ youth. Indeed Our Fund is among the Humanity Project's major sponsors and just renewed its commitment to our kids through a generous new grant. We are deeply grateful! Because we cooperate so closely with Our Fund we know how dedicated this community foundation is to causes that matter, finding significant financial support for those causes from people who care about a better world. We are, as always, honored to be part of the Our Fund family -- a remarkable group of agencies, staffers, volunteers and philanthropists. We hope you may consider joining all of us. Our Fund is, truly, a cause for hope. 

Helping Us To Help Them

We're very pleased to announce a wonderful, and very tasty, new fundraiser being held for the Humanity Project. Bona Italian Restaurant in Wilton Manors, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale, will host us on Monday, June 11 -- and a full 10% of the evening's proceeds will go to help Humanity Project antibullying programs. Bona Italian Restaurant is a public-spirited establishment that regularly offers its patrons a chance to assist local nonprofits through "Give Back Mondays." We are honored and we are grateful for this opportunity. 

Appropriately for Pride Month, the fundraiser runs from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday in one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the United States. Here's the address: Bona Italian Restaurant, 2468 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, FL 33305. You'll find their website at www.bonaitalianrestaurant.com. The LGBTQ population is disproportionately bullied in the schools and the Humanity Project's Antibullying Through The Arts and Humanity Club programs are proven effective in preventing bullying behavior. Our organization also is sponsored by several LGBTQ organizations including Our Fund. We are staunch allies, colleagues and friends of the LGBTQ community. 

If you'd like to donate to the Humanity Project, or hold your own fundraiser to support our programs, please just go to the Contact page on this website and get in touch. We would welcome your help. Which, of course, allows us to help many more of them -- our kids. 

Let's Talk Auto Safety

We've posted a new podcast -- and it might just help you prevent an auto crash. So we'll keep this blog post very brief today. Instead, we hope you'll go listen to our conversation with Jose Soto, a community affairs specialist from State Farm, and Doreen Cannon, a longtime State Farm agent. Go to the podcast page. 

You'll hear a discussion about auto safety for teens and parents, something the folks at State Farm know more than a little about. As do we here at the Humanity Project, where we created the I Care safe driving program for teens and their parents. Check out the podcast. The guests are interesting, the talk is informative. And of course, as always, the podcast is free to download. We think you'll enjoy it. 

School Violence ... Revisited

Editor's Note: This blog was originally posted on our website on February 15, 2018 -- one day after the massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school. We are reposting it one day after the massacre at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. And we are saddened by need to offer these thoughts yet again ...

by Bob Knotts, Founder & President

Yesterday one of the worst mass school shootings in U.S. history happened in the school district where the Humanity Project works, day in and day out. Here in Broward County, Florida, at least 17 people were killed by a disturbed young man. I know this school -- only two years ago, I was there as part of a panel for parents about teen suicide. So today, as we look for answers to school violence, I must offer these personal thoughts.

Look around carefully and reflect on what is in front of our eyes. School shootings can’t be stopped with any quick fix. Liberals want strict gun control. Yes, it’s needed. Yes, it will prevent some deaths by guns. Conservatives call for mental health measures – and yes, better treatments are much needed. But for me, the real problems are embedded in a culture that has long celebrated anti-intellectualism and violence as a solution. Consider the recipe:

We begin with a broth of ignorance as virtue. Our culture, unlike most other modern societies, has long celebrated the John Wayne attitude toward problems: “Hit first, shoot first … ask questions later. But not very deep questions. Afterall, he had it coming.” Many Americans regard intelligent thought suspiciously, nuance as confusing, facts as fluid. Don’t muddy the waters with information that withstands critical thinking. Just do it. Punch the bully back in the face. Shoot the home intruder dead. Elect an unqualified person because he acts tough; he’ll fix things. This is America – and ignorance is our birthright. Step one in the recipe to cultural violence. 

Stir in an oversized portion of isolation. Social media doesn’t bring us together. It isolates us. We live with the illusion that Facebook brings connection and Twitter transmits knowledge. They do the opposite. So people resort to treating their dogs like children and their cats like spouses. We are alone and lonely. For the youthful screen-obsessed generations, this has greatly diluted their ability to communicate with people intelligently, if at all. Their noses are buried in trivia backlit by an Apple cellphone. This isolation has changed the culture, much for the worse. For too many reasons to offer here. But for troubled minds, the isolation from humanity and the access to warped points of view and anonymous self-expressions of hate can push some toward violence. 

Season with celebrations of ultra-violence. America always has celebrated violence. But not in the way we do today. Kids spend hours daily glued to video games that show shockingly real depictions of explosions, gun deaths and worse. These are portrayed to young minds as cool. Just as bad, so many of our major stars portray action heroes who live and die by the John Wayne mentality: “Shoot first. Don’t think. Violence always is the solution.” How can we convince children that bullying isn’t cool and that respect is cool … when all they admire shows the opposite? Being big and bad and tough, that’s cool according to Hollywood. Every time any one of us buys a ticket to see the latest shoot-em-up by The Rock or Tom Cruise or Charlize Theron we contribute to the problem. Action films make big bucks: therefore action films get made and promoted. To a troubled kid, real violence looks like glory. 

Sprinkle with sloppiness, laziness and ineptitude. American society encourages parenting that is about shallow achievements rather than healthy growth. Parents take their kids to every known form of lesson, training and camp – and spend time working on a child’s soccer technique instead of helping them understand what it is to be a human being. Kids need time, space. They need to play and pretend. What child do you know who gets these things in proper proportion? Parents in this country are horrendous at parenting. Schools aren’t much better, though many try. They’re driven by pointless testing rather than real knowledge, by rote learning rather than deep curiosity. No time for anti-bullying programs, no support for training in meditation or projects that teach respect for all people. Because, hey, our school needs to earn a better grade during state testing. Adult attitudes and adult behavior toward kids contribute to violence by those kids who suffer deeper problems. 

Finally, mix vigorously with lack of compassion. This is related to our ignorance as virtue, but actually cuts even deeper. Americans are not taught compassion or empathy. We’re taught to be wary of these virtues, replacing them with the judgmental and hard-hearted. As a result, we can’t understand why a kid would take a rifle and kill 17 innocent people. The answer is because that kid isn’t you. Or me. He grew up with very different parents and siblings and experiences. He learned very different values and beliefs. Even his genes are different. Yes, of course you can watch The Rock for 2 hours at the multiplex without being inspired to violence. Because you’re you, with all your relatively stable life experiences. To the troubled kid, the movie means something different. Americans, many people in general, suffer from the delusion that the way a fairly normal person feels about something is the way everyone feels. It isn’t. And for some, the movie and the video game and the culture of violence, the isolation and shallowness slice to their core – and then one day it all explodes suddenly to everyone’s great surprise. 

In the end, we need to learn to be human. Humanity is a species of soaring qualities, mostly untapped. Until we accept this idea and work toward the fulfillment of our humanity, the past is mere prologue … and the next shooting is only just around the block.

Safeguarding Our Good Name

The Humanity Project has taken an important legal step to more formally protect our name. And to safeguard the reputation we have worked so hard for nearly 13 years now to build among the community as well as the larger online world. As you see from the document shown here, we have won official U.S. government approval of "The Humanity Project" as a registered trademark. From now on, you often will see our name with a new symbol that claims this protection: The Humanity Project®. (You can see a larger image of the document below.)

In the past, we relied on the standard TM symbol for "trademark." This offers very real legal protections. But the ® symbol and designation strengthen our protection greatly. They allow us to more easily pursue legal action against those who infringe on the use of our name without express permission -- and to seek damages, court costs and legal fees. We've found this new level of legal protection necessary because ... well, because our name is such a good one, quite frankly. Several organizations have tried unsuccessfully over the years to borrow "the Humanity Project" without our permission. 

We make diligent efforts at the Humanity Project to deliver free programs for kids (and parents) that create meaningful changes in society. Every day, we promote our stated core values of respect, diversity and self-worth. To continue doing this, we must keep our brand safe in this complex Internet-driven world. That small symbol, ®, is a big help in accomplishing this goal. 

Artistry Of The Mind

We will keep this blog post brief. Mostly because we'd prefer that you devote your time on our website today to listening rather than reading. You'll find our latest podcast well worth hearing. 

Our guest is Bethany Auriel-Hagan, a gifted Guided Visualization Artist from California -- and she has much to say that many people should hear. We're honored that Bethany is a new friend of the Humanity Project. And everyone here warmly welcomes her to our community! Bethany's podcast with Humanity Project Founder, Bob Knotts, covers a wide variety of fascinating topics, including self-acceptance, self-worth ... and how we as individuals can find those qualities within us. 

To hear the podcast, just click on this link: Listen to the podcast with Bethany Auriel-Hagan. You'll be glad to make the acquaintance of this remarkable woman. 

Keeping Your Child Safe Online

Something different for our blog this time ... An information graphic by the folks at KidGuard, a company that provides help for parents to keep their kids safe online. 

Look over that image below carefully if you're a parent (or grandparent). It offers useful information in today's Internet-driven world. To read the full KidGuard article: Click here. 

Sometimes the old adage is true: You can't be too careful ... especially when it comes to protecting your children against the many dangers online.