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Demi Lovato answers questions from the audience.

Lovato partners with PACER to help stop bullying

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With the snip of a scissors, Disney Channel star Demi Lovato helped launch a new anti-bullying Web site Friday, Aug. 7.

Lovato, who was bullied when she was younger, has partnered with PACER Center's National Center for Bullying Prevention to help champion its anti-bullying movement.

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"They say that sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can never hurt you," Lovato told a crowd of young fans, parents and PACER staff at the launch ceremony. "With my experience I've learned that's completely not true. Everything that was told to me or all the names I've been called have stuck with me until today. It can hurt."

Lovato urged everyone who is bullied to seek help from an adult, but also to continue to focus on positive things even when faced with negative messages.

"Just put your energy into good," she said.

She also had a message for those who think it's fun to harass people through threatening e-mails, phone calls and bullying in school.

Everyone should choose their words carefully, Lovato said, and build others up instead of tearing them down.

"It's unfortunate that people would spend their time doing that (bullying) instead of putting their energy into something better," she said.

Lovato said she hoped PACER officials and others would begin to work on legislation that would address verbal and cyber abuse. She urged teachers and school administrators to become more aware of bullying and begin to address all forms of such abuse.

Paula F. Goldberg, executive director and co-founder of PACER, thanked Lovato for her help in promoting the new Web site and supporting the anti-bullying movement.

"We are so pleased that you're willing to take the risk and speak out and become part of the movement to help stop bullying," she said.

PACER, headquartered in Bloomington, Minn., has been working on the TeensAgainstBullying.org site for about two years, developing the materials with the help of teenage advisors.

TeensAgainstBullying.org is a bullying prevention educational resource where teens themselves participate in the creative process of developing concepts, content, artwork and the voice for the site.

PACER will also promote its relationship with Lovato during its fourth annual National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week (Oct. 4-10). During that week, PACER encourages schools and communities nationwide to work together to increase awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on all children.

Families, students, schools, organizations and other groups can partner with PACER (at PACER.org) to prevent bullying in several ways. Activities and materials such as contests, toolkits and online bullying prevention training will be available at TeensAgainstBullying.org.

According to a recent study by The National Association of School Psychologists and the U.S. Department of Justice, 160,000 kids of all ages stay home from school every day to avoid the stress that comes from being confronted by a bully or bullies.

As the launch ceremony concluded, Michael Keller, chief brand marketing chief for International Dairy Queen, led the crowd in a pledge.

With arms raised, everyone repeated, "the end of bullying begins with me."

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Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
(715) 243-7767 x241
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