PACER’s Role in Maine & Beyond
PACER, an acronym for Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights, is a beacon of hope for countless families across the United States. Established in 1977, PACER Center was birthed from the collective efforts of parents of children and youth with disabilities. Their primary goal was to assist other parents and families navigating similar challenges. Over the years, PACER has grown exponentially, not just in size but in its scope of work, addressing various issues that children with disabilities and their families face.
One of PACER’s most notable initiatives is the National Bullying Prevention Center, founded in 2006. This center is at the forefront of leading social change to prevent childhood bullying, ensuring that all youth, irrespective of their abilities, are safe and supported in their schools, communities, and online platforms. Recognizing bullying as a grave community issue, PACER emphasizes its impact on education, physical and emotional health, and the overall safety and well-being of students.
PACER’s Goals & Initiatives
PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center has set forth several goals to combat bullying:
- Promote Shared Responsibility: Encourage a collective response to bullying where everyone, from students to educators to parents, works together to create safe environments for students.
- Inspire Community Involvement: Motivate communities to engage in social change, promoting values of kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.
- Resources for Educators: Offer classroom activities, toolkits, and lesson plans tailored for educators to address and prevent bullying.
- Guides for Parents: Provide comprehensive guides to help parents understand bullying dynamics, assist their children through such situations, and effectively communicate with school staff.
- Educate Students: Equip students with age-appropriate resources to handle bullying situations, support their peers, and take proactive measures to prevent bullying in various settings.
- School-wide Opportunities: Create initiatives like the National Bullying Prevention Month in October and Unity Day to address bullying on a larger scale.
PACER also acknowledges the deep-rooted issues of racism and social injustice in the country. They are committed to ensuring just systems for all families, recognizing the significant disparities Black children and their families face in education, health, housing, and the justice system.
PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center offers a plethora of information on bullying:
- Questions Answered: Responses in various formats, including images, articles, and more, to commonly asked questions about bullying.
- Publications: Resources designed to inform and educate on bullying-related issues, free to download and share in classrooms, homes, or communities.
- Statistics: Important research highlighting the effects, intervention, and impact of bullying.
- Facts: Key points emphasizing relevant best practices and issues about bullying.
- Cyberbullying: A comprehensive module featuring information, videos, and interactions on topics including the definition of cyberbullying, how to address it, and ways to help youth.
- Students With Disabilities: A module detailing important facts, rights, policies, specialized resources, and advocacy tips for students with disabilities facing bullying.
Classroom Education & Activities
PACER offers a range of free educational and interactive bullying prevention resources tailored for K-12 learners, as well as the parents and educators who support them. These resources can be utilized in classrooms, homes, workshops, or special events:
- Elementary School Education: Educational resources designed specifically for younger students to creatively engage them and build their understanding of how to address and prevent bullying.
- Elementary Activities: Activities and resources tailored for younger students, aiming to engage them through conversation, activities, art, and music, thereby building their understanding of handling bullying situations.
- Middle / High School Education: Educational resources designed for teens to help them understand and develop skills to address and prevent bullying.
- Middle and High School Activities: Activities and resources tailored for older students, aiming to engage them through conversation, event planning, activities, art, and music, thereby building their understanding of handling bullying situations.
- All In: A year-long classroom resource initiative designed to create environments where every student is Included, Involved, and Invested in preventing and addressing bullying.
Bullying affects too many lives, and witnessing its damaging effects can inspire the generous spirit of people who want to make a difference, support the cause, and change something that has happened to too many for too long. Here are some ways you can take action:
- Take the Pledge: One out of every five students report being bullied. Unite with others, show that you care, and make a commitment for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.
- Build Community Kit: The Kit ($30) is designed to encourage coming together for a common goal: to make stronger connections among each other to help prevent bullying and create a healthier environment for all.
- Cartoon Network Initiatives: Cartoon Network has partnered with PACER to raise awareness of identity-based bullying and share ways kids can act as allies to support one another. They have various campaigns such as “Redraw Your World Without Bullying,” “Kids Take On Bullying Campaign,” and “Include Someone Campaign.”
- Students with Solutions: Engage students to address bullying through sharing writing, artwork, and videos. Opportunity for educators to share an activity or video with students and have them express their solutions to addressing bullying.
- The Unity Awards: An annual event to recognize and celebrate individuals who have made outstanding contributions to address and prevent bullying.
- Stories of Hope and Resilience: Submit a video, story, poem, artwork, or audio clip expressing how you feel about bullying. By sharing your story, you can help let others know they’re not alone.
- Partners: Recognizing community members who are leading change and supporting the mission of building safe and supportive communities.
- I Care Because …: Everyone has a reason to care about bullying prevention. Share why YOU care.
- Book Club: Stories are powerful ways to learn, explore, and connect. See what books PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center is reading and share them with others.
- Friends of PACER’s Run Walk Roll: A free month-long event during April in which everyone can participate with a collective goal of reaching 24,901 miles, the distance around the world.
PACER stands as a testament to what collective efforts can achieve. From its inception by a group of parents to its current status as a national force against bullying and advocate for children with disabilities, PACER’s journey is truly inspirational. Their work not only benefits children with disabilities but also fosters a more inclusive, understanding, and compassionate society. In the fight against bullying and the quest for equal rights for all children, PACER leads the way, and it’s up to us to join them in this noble endeavor.