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Updated Apr 26, 2012 - 6:42 am

Anti-Defamation League targets bullying in U.S.

PHOENIX -- The Anti-Defamation League is taking a lead role in bringing educational programs about bullying to parents, educators and students across the country.

ADL has partnered with "Stand 4 Change," an anti-bullying initiative, in attempt to make history on May 4. The goal is to have every child in every school in America stand in unison (9 a.m. Arizona time) against bullying.

"ADL has had anti-biased programs in schools since 1985, but have formulated a program specifically for bullying," said Bill Strauss, Arizona ADL spokesman.

One major focus is to reach out to the bystander, in hopes that people who witness bullying behavior will speak out and help protect the victim.

"We believe that making allies out of people who otherwise don't want to get their uniform dirty in this fight is a critical element," Strauss said.

No one is off limits to a bully.

"From the color of their skin, to the way that they pray, or choose not to pray, from what they wear, from how big they are or how small they are," Strauss said.

Technology is making bullying even more pervasive. In the past, bullied children found respite at home, but now computers and phones make it easier for bullies to prey on victims from afar, too.

That's why Strauss said ADL committed to help raise awareness by joining a series of national activities and initiatives to stop bullying and cyberbulling.

"The truth is bullying is not only an issue for the schools and the home," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director.

"The impact of bullying is one that carries over beyond the school years and affects the behavior of adults and the entire society."

Besides the hopes for setting a record, the students participating in "Stand 4 Change" hope their actions will draw national attention to the issue by using peer pressure for something positive -- to bring attention to bullying.

ADL has also partnered in bringing Lee Hirsch's new documentary film "Bully" to screens in multiple cities, and has organized educational follow-up activities surrounding the film's release.

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