Child abuse prevention is everyone's business and no single entity can prevent it alone. That's why DFPS funds programs in communities across Texas to help battle child abuse using local approaches and resources.
For example, a Round Rock agency named STARRY has a program that combats bullying. Bullying takes many forms and in recent years cyber-bullying has been on the rise. This form of bullying often goes unreported, leaving its victims angry, sad, and embarrassed.
According to STARRY, national statistics count nearly 3 million students who report experiencing some form of bullying each year. More than one in three young people say they have experienced online bullying.
"It's a lot easier to be a bully these days because you don't have to say mean things to someone's face," says Jessica Larson (left), the STARRY counselor who helps lead her agency's cyber-bullying presentations. "Now youth are creating websites dedicated to slandering someone. You can't always pick out the one who is doing the bullying anymore."
Larson and her co-presenter, STARRY Counselor Sarah Walters, have suggestions for parents and students dealing with bullying. "We tell youth and children, first, before you take action, take five minutes to breathe. You don't want to react in the heat of anger," says Walters. "Walk away and tell an adult. If dealing with text message bullying, you can contact your phone provider and get the messages blocked. If dealing with a website, you can contact the internet provider and report the abuse. They will then take action."
Larson recommends action if there is continuing bullying that begins to take the form of physical threats. "Go to the police," she says "Physical threats of any kind are serious. And, if you are a student with a friend who is a bully or is being bullied, tell someone. You can make a difference."
The STARRY Cyber-bullying program is available to groups, educators, civic leaders, and others. STARRY provides free individual and family counseling as well as programs geared toward pre-teen and teenage students and focused on solutions. STARRY also provides services to youth in the DFPS Services to At-Risk (STAR) program and has an emergency shelter for children who have been removed from their homes by due to abuse or neglect.
"STARRY prizes the opportunity to work with DFPS," says Richard Singleton, executive director of STARRY. "We share a collegial, collaborative relationship and have a long history of partnering to preserve and protect families. We look forward to continuing to work together in the important work of helping Texas families."