Nearly one out of every three students, ages 12 to 18 years in Arizona are bullied at school during the school year.
It is not surprising, therefore, that students in Arizona skip school out of fear for their safety, are threatened or injured with weapons on school grounds, and even carry weapons to school at rates at or above national averages.
First lady Nicole Stanton launched Stop Bullying AZ. The initiative is a direct result of the October 2012 Anti-Bullying Summit she orchestrated at Arizona State University attended by more than 300 educators, administrators, teachers and other professionals.
"Coming out of the Summit we learned that there are a lot of good programs being offered in the community assisting with bullying prevention," according to Stanton.
This is an issue that has personal and painful ties to Stanton and her family. Stanton's brother was severely bullied in high school to the point of physical assault.
She reflects on the poor decisions made in her brother's case--decisions the family would later come to regret and that plagued her brother throughout his short life. Stanton's brother, Dion, died in 1991.
Stanton believes that educators need help identifying which evidence-based programs work, and it was clear that a central resource was needed to connect them and parents to the network of great organizations and to the programs that will affect the best change in their schools.
Another important voice on this issue is Nick Lowery, former NFL Hall of Fame kicker and Harvard graduate.
His foundation is committed to fostering leadership in Arizona's youth in order to end bullying in Arizona.
His annual event, Image 100 Faces, will take place on April 4th at 6pm at a home in Paradise Valley. Tickets are available through his website.
This is an important event to raise money and awareness for anti-bullying in Arizona and will feature performances from Grammy Award winning saxophonist Marion Meadows and Gabriel Ayala, fresh from his performance at President Obama's inauguration.