- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) - When town police Chief Mark Sisson began looking into statistics about bullying, he said he was shocked by what he read.

According to Sisson, 49 percent of students ages 4 to 12 have been bullied in the last month. Along with that, 70 percent of children reported they have been bullied in their childhood.

But a statistic that relates directly to law enforcement: Only 25 percent of those who are bullied report it to a school employee or parent.

On Oct. 7, Christiansburg Police Department unveiled its anti-bullying police vehicle as a partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools to raise awareness about the issue. The cruiser will be driven by the Officer Allan Klein, a school resource officer, and it is covered with slogans to educate students. Klein teaches the D.A.R.E. prevention program to fifth graders in Montgomery County Public Schools.

“We think by bringing awareness to this process, we can bring solutions and that’s our objective is to bring solutions,” Sisson said. “We have always been very proactive in our instruction of bullying.”

Montgomery County school employees expressed their thanks on Oct. 7 for the opportunity to partner in the effort. Sharon Zuckerwar, a curriculum supervisor who is responsible for the character education program in Montgomery County, said that October is anti-bullying and bullying awareness month - but every day is seen as an opportunity to raise awareness.

“Our work is really about prevention and teaching students what bullying is and what to do if it happens to them or someone they see,” Zuckerwar said. “We’re trying to create the opportunities for kids to be proactive like Chief Sisson was talking about and being able to do something about it instead of just watching it happen.”

The anti-bullying vehicle will be used in a way to open discussions with students about reporting bullying if they see it.

“The fact that they took the initiative to put this on the car makes this a point for us to talk about with kids and the community,” Zuckerwar said. “Chief Sisson thinks broadly about our community and we’re focused on youth. We’re happy that we can all work together.”

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Information from: The Roanoke Times, https://www.roanoke.com

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