WILKES-BARRE – About 70 children aged 2 through 12 and their parents attended a Turk and Treat event at St. Benedict's in Parsons section of the city on Saturday afternoon.
Organizers from Parsons Crime Watch put together this one-time event to educate the neighborhood children about the new types of bullying they face every day, said Charlotte Raup, president of Wilkes-Barre's crime watch group.
The difference between then and now is that bullying never stops. It continues on social media like Facebook and YouTube, Raup said. When we were young, no one made mention of it. Now, it can go on day and night and the kids can‘t get away from it, she said.
The event included visits by McGruff the Crime Dog, The Great Turkey and The Bully, who was quick to misbehave. Played by Frank Sorick, the Bully performed some wanton acts of bullying, drawing attention to what it actually looks like, Raup said.
That is a far more effective way to get through to them than just talking to them about it, Raup.
The well-behaved children learned the importance of standing up to bullies and reporting to authorities any incidents they may encounter, Raup said. They were told always to stick together and understand how to respect everybody because we are all different, she added.
The most important point the children need to know is it is never OK and it's not funny to bully other people, Raup added. We wanted to get this to them while they are young, she said.
The children were all on board, Raup said, because of the awareness efforts they are involved in at public schools as well as what they are now seeing on television shows.
Prizes such as cash and toys were awarded. Every child received at least a bag of candy and coloring books emphasizing the anti-bullying message, Raup said.
Sharon Katsock and her grandson Zachary, 12, a sixth-grader at the Leo Solomon/Plains Elementary School, attended the event.
Teaching the kids to report bullying is vital to helping stop it, Katsock. The children had a good time at Saturday's event, which enhances learning the message, she added.
Zachary liked the event because of the free candy, but he said he definitely learned something.
Katsock and Raup came up with the program due to their experience dealing with bullies and young children.
We patrol the streets every night. Our main concern is children. We want to keep our kids safe, Raup said.
The organizers made a point to thank members of the St. Benedict's Parish for offering use of its facility and the 25 volunteers who worked the event. They also appreciated the Parsons Lions Club for donating $300, Raup said.