MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Second-year students in the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy worked with the children in the after-school program at The Shack Neighborhood House to help educate them about bullying in order to stop bullying before it starts.
Schools are meant to be safe environments where children can learn and express themselves freely. For many students, though, school becomes a place of fear or dread. According to the National Education Association, it is estimated that 160,000 American children miss school every day due to fear of being bullied, and many more spend their days at school consumed by fear and anxiety.
The student pharmacists educated the children — ranging from grades K-8 — on the harmful effects of bullying and presented a puppet show and interactive exercise to get the children involved with recognizing bullying.
“Children need to be aware of bullying at a young age so that they learn that is not right to be a bully and, more importantly, where to seek help if they are a target of a bully,” second-year student pharmacist Zachary Post said.
While bullying can become more common as students age, the younger bullying starts, it can lead to even more problems in the future. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, children who begin bullying by age 8 are four times as likely to have a criminal record by age 30.
“Bullying can be in different forms, too,” Post said. “There is verbal bullying that can be name calling and other insults which can damage a child’s self image, and then there is physical bullying, such as pushing and fighting. We want the children at The Shack to understand what bullying is and the negative effects it has on everyone. Education is the key to prevention.”
In addition to educating the children at The Shack Neighborhood House, the student pharmacists also provided information to take home to parents and guardians so they can recognize the signs of bullying and be better prepared to speak with their children and help them if needed.
The student pharmacists were partnered with The Shack Neighborhood House through the WVU Center for Civic Engagement for their Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience course, which promotes service to the community. 
“The Shack provides us with a great opportunity to reach out to children and their parents and guardians to raise awareness about this issue,” Post said. “We hope that our project gave them the tools and confidence to stand up to bullies, the knowledge to know when and how to ask for help and to also not become bullies themselves.”
Photo caption:
WVU pharmacy student Olivia Rohrssen quizzes children at The Shack Neighborhood House about what they learned through the bullying prevention presentation.

For more information: Amy Newton, School of Pharmacy, 304-293-7192