Our office manager Stephen Betzen delivered the following speech to the Dallas City Council, on October 14, 2015, as part of our clinic’s observance of National Bullying Prevention Month. He called upon the mayor and council members to sign a pledge against bullying.
TEXT OF SPEECH TO THE DALLAS CITY COUNCIL
My name is Stephen Betzen. I am a citizen of Dallas and the co-owner and office manager of Dallas Reading and Language Services. We are a speech therapy and reading clinic in North Oak Cliff, specializing in the treatment of children ages 3-18.
I am a constituent of The Honorable Mr. Thomas, and our clinic is located in the district of The Honorable Mr. Griggs.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
Our speech therapists have seen plenty of children who have been targeted by bullies because of their special needs as children with speech or language disorders or delays. We know firsthand how devastating to young lives it can be.
One of our students was attacked at school by bullies and they broke his ankle. When he went back to school on crutches, they tripped him and he sprained his other ankle. Today he attends another school to avoid his bullies.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. Bullying effects their social and emotional well-being and through extension, their educational outcomes. Roughly 160,000 kids stay home from school every day to avoid their bullies.
As schools and communities, we have tasked our children with ending bullying. We seek to give children an outlet to talk about their own experiences as bullies or victims, and to practice better social skills and to learn to stop bullying before it starts.
Similarly, we as parents, leaders, and role models need to be mindful of the examples we set for children and we need to consider our actions and interactions.
For National Bullying Prevention Month, Dallas Reading and Language Services, our clinic, has initiated a program called “Be a Star, Not a Bully.”
Our therapists ask each child to sign a pledge card promising to stand against bullying. Additionally, they sign a star, which we then place on the wall of our waiting room.
By signing a similar pledge card, you as city leaders will be setting a positive example for children and helping to empower the many children who suffer the ill effects of bullying every day in our community.
With the pledge, we are also giving you a star to put your name on. We will add your star to the stars of the children and together all our stars can shine against bullying.
Thank you all for your help.