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Bullying Bites: AAO Plans Second Anti-Bullying Campaign

For the second year, the AAO will observe National Bullying Prevention Month in October as a significant part of the celebration of National Orthodontic Health Month.

Member practices are invited to join the effort. To help interested members lead their teams in preparing to initiate anti-bullying campaigns in their practices and communities, creative assets and a variety of observance ideas are now available.

Last October, the AAO conducted its first anti-bullying initiative. Positive responses from members led the AAO to plan the 2020 approach in a similar fashion. The AAO 2020 observance, known as #bullyingbites, offers the following:

T-Shirt Graphic. Producing T-shirts and distributing them to your team and/or patients can help raise awareness as they wear and share the anti-bullying message. Members interested in a time-saving approach are welcome to use the AAO’s design. A photo of a produced T-shirt that may be accessed via the bullyingbites web page shows recommended placement of your practice logo if you choose to use the AAO-designed graphic. (Click on “Spread the Word”; then, open the Apparel zip folder.)

Alternatively, put your or a team member’s creativity to work on a customized anti-bullying concept and design for your practice. Once the T-shirts are produced and distributed, ask everyone to wear their shirts to observe Unity Day on October 21 (or another date of your choice).

Unity Day, an initiative of Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center, asks participants worldwide to wear orange and support anti-bullying efforts by posting photos on social media. Last year, some AAO member practices elected to design their own Unity Day T-shirts (see below).

Pledge Form. Developed by anti-bullying organization Stand for the Silent, the pledge form may be distributed and signed by AAO members, their employees and patients. The pledge states:

“From this day forward, I promise to respect those around me as well as respect myself. I am somebody, and I can make a difference. I can make another feel loved. I can be the helping hand that leads another back to the path of hope and aspiration. I will not stand silent as others try to spread hatred through my community. Instead, I pledge to lift up those victims and show them that their life matters. I will be the change because I AM SOMEBODY!”

Communication Materials. Posters, social media posts, and a press release template may be used to amplify the anti-bullying message.

Philanthropic Options. Those who may be interested in related charitable efforts may wish to consider the following:
▪ Financial support or volunteering as a provider for the AAO Donated Orthodontic Services (DOS) program; and
▪ Supporting Stand for the Silent. The anti-bullying organization provides educational assembly programs at schools nationwide, which may be sponsored by community members. If your practice is already active in supporting nearby schools or if you would like to get involved, sponsoring an anti-bullying presentation can be a unique way to help kids in your community.

The AAO plans to sponsor a presentation by Stand for the Silent at a school in Boston during the 2021 Annual Session (April 24-27).
Learn More about #bullyingbites and Access Materials and Information

Over the years, issues with teeth have often been targeted by bullies as highlighted by a study that appeared in the AJO-DO(1), noting the significant relationship between bullying targeting dentofacial features and a negative impact on oral health–related quality of life. A OnePoll survey found seven in 10 Americans admit to feeling self-conscious about their teeth and revealed that 57 percent of Americans cover their mouths when they laugh due to insecurity about their teeth.(2)

Member Practices Joined the 2019 Anti-bullying Initiative 
In 2019, many member practices took a variety of steps to spread anti-bullying messages. Below are some examples of how members shared the spirit of National Bullying Prevention Month with patients and their communities.

Dr. Jason Meinhardt, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Dr. Meinhardt and his team supported Unity Day by creating T-shirts and posting photos of themselves wearing them.

Dr. Jason Tennison, Cleburne, Texas
Dr. Tennison had a video made as he signed the Stand for the Silent anti-bullying pledge and posted the video.

Dr. Elaine Sunga, Chula Vista, California
Dr. Suga’s team produced a video showing parents and patients, and pairs of staff members, reciting the Stand for the Silent anti-bullying pledge.

Traditional National Orthodontic Health Month Materials are Available
In addition to the anti-bullying campaign, the AAO is in the process of updating its traditional National Orthodontic Health Month materials, including fliers, posters, social media posts and more.
Access the Current National Orthodontic Health Month Materials
(To access materials, log in and scroll down the linked page to National Orthodontic Health Month.)

1. Al-Omari I. et al. Impact of bullying due to dentofacial features on oral health–related quality of life. American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, December 2014.

2. Author RSS Feed. More than half of Americans feel insecure about their teeth. New York Post, January 24, 2019. Downloaded from https://nypost.com/2019/01/24/more-than-half-of-americans-feel-insecure-about-their-teeth/.