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Minnesota nonprofit launches teen bullying prevention Web site

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Rosemount, 55024

Rosemount Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Hollywood Records pop music sensation and Disney Channel star, Demi Lovato, has partnered with PACER Center's National Center for Bullying Prevention to help champion their anti-bullying movement.

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With this announcement, Lovato, whose new album "Here We Go Again," skyrocketed to the #1 position on the Billboard album charts one week ago, now has a platform for a cause she cares about deeply.

It might be hard to imagine that Demi Lovato was the target of bullying when she was younger, but she was and she now has joined forces with the Minneapolis-based PACER Center. Lovato will support the non-profit national center by appearing on PACER's soon-to-be-launched (Aug. 8) TeensAgainstBullying.org Web site.

TeensAgainstBullying.org is an innovative bullying prevention educational resource where teens themselves participate in the creative process of developing concepts, content, artwork and the voice for the site.

"We are so fortunate to have Demi join our Teens Against Bullying movement," said Paula F. Goldberg, executive director and co-founder of PACER. "Our mission is to engage, educate and empower teens to care about the issue and Demi will certainly raise the level of awareness of the importance of bullying prevention. Her personal experiences with bullying have made her passionate about educating others about this cause."

PACER will also promote its relationship with Lovato through its Web site and a social networking campaign that looks to create more awareness for the cause during the 4th Annual National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week (Oct. 4-10). During that week, PACER encourages schools and communities nationwide to work together to increase awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on all children.

Families, students, schools, organizations and other groups can partner with PACER (at PACER.org) to prevent bullying in several ways. Activities and materials such as contests, toolkits and online bullying prevention training will be available at TeensAgainstBullying.org on August 8th and are already available online at KidsAgainstBullying.org (for elementary school kids).

According to a recent study by The National Association of School Psychologists and the U.S. Dept. of Justice, 160,000 kids of all ages stay home from school everyday to avoid the stress that comes from being confronted by a bully or bullies.

"Bullying is intentional, hurtful and often repetitive behavior forced on a child who does not knowingly provoke the bully. There is a clear imbalance of power either in the physical strength, social status or the intimidating behavior of the bully," explains Goldberg.

Lovato hopes her involvement with PACER will help other teens. "Working together we can make a difference. I hope that by sharing my story, it will encourage other teens to speak out," Lovato said. "No one deserves to be bullied.

"My mom and dad provided me with such a great support system and once I was away from the kids who were bullying me, I was able to get my confidence back and get back to acting," she explained. "But not everyone has the great support system and outlets that I did, so I would like to help end bullying to make it easier for kids and teens in all situations."

Bullying is not and should not ever be considered just part of growing up. It does not make someone tougher and often has the opposite effect, lowering a child's self-esteem and self-worth, creating fear and increasing anxiety. While some children have the confidence and skills to stop bullying when it happens, many do not, and children shouldn't be expected to deal with bullying on their own. Adults often are unaware of or don't understand bullying partly because many children don't report it. Most studies find that only 25 to 50 percent of bullied children talk to an adult about it.

"Just as society does not expect targets of other types of abuse to deal with it on their own, we should not expect this from children and young adults who are targets of bullying," added Goldberg.

For more information, visit PACER.org, TeensAgainstBullying.org, KidsAgainstBullying.org or call 952-838-9000.

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