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Community recognizes October as national anti-bullying month

Community recognizes October as national anti-bullying month

Author John Paul Padilla gathers with local students and Johnny Big-Ears mascot at Markley Park last April. Students are as follows from left to right: Giovanni Sahagun, Osborn Elementary; Shania W...

POSTED October 17, 2013 7:27 p.m.


Bullying can cause pain beyond a physical scar, often wounding a child’s spirit and self-esteem. October’s National Anti-Bullying month is taking center stage in the Turlock community through various events being held to educate and inspire students to be more tolerant.


Julien Elementary is hosting Lizzie Slider, a 15-year-old country singer who has partnered with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to encourage students to prevent bullying as she recounts her own experience being teased. Slider will sing her song that she co-wrote titled “Butterfly” which describes how she overcame bullying.


Slider will appear at 11 a.m. Thursday.


“The school works to proactively prevent bullying by examining ways students can be successful and if I get a chance to get someone in here to tell their story, we do it,” said Julien Principal Linda Murphy-Lopes.


Murphy-Lopes holds monthly Character Trait assemblies for the entire school that acknowledges students who have displayed the month’s trait, such as trustworthiness or respectfulness.


“We work on positive reinforcement and respect,” she said.


Rubber Duck Lunches is another program that Murphy-Lopes has implemented. She carries around small rubber ducks in her pocket and gives them to students that exhibit respectful behavior towards others. Selected students bring their lunch to her office that day and get to spend lunch chatting with the principal.


Joining in on the anti-bullying crusade is local author John Paul Padilla, who is reaching out to students at all schools by holding book signings in Turlock and Modesto for his second children’s book against bullying titled “Johnny Big-Ears Meets his New Neighbor Suzy.”


Padilla’s signature character Johnny Big-Ears is based on his own experience of being bullied as a child for having big ears. This experience, in conjunction with student behavior he witnessed as a school yard duty, inspired Padilla to write his books.


After conducting research, Padilla found that female students are most teased for being overweight. He said he conceived of the name “Suzy Chunkles” for his book, basing the names of main characters on unique attributes of children.


“Bullies aren’t born, they are made. My books aim to teach children self-love, confidence and respect for others’ uniqueness,” Padilla said.


Padilla’s books are geared towards children ages 4 years to 10 years old. The books are fully illustrated and include a questionnaire and diagram.


The book signings will be held at Lightly Used Books in Turlock from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 26 and St. Stanislaus Parish School in Modesto from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 27.


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