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Bullying specialists speak out on Wisconsin anchor's message against bullying

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - After Wisconsin morning show anchor Jennifer Livingston spoke out against bullying after receiving an email calling her obese and therefore a bad role model, local bullying prevention specialists are saying she is a role mode for speaking out. Her message sparked a conversation about bullying across the country not just about bullying among kids, but adults too.

Watching the video, Vikki Smithson of Utica Safe Schools was shocked hearing a viewer's hurtful words to an anchor about her weight, but happy with the message she's now sending.

"I think it's important that she speaks out on it and gives her opinion because children do watch the news and so they will hear first hand an adult in her eyes was bullied and how she handled it," said Smithson.

While she's used to discussing bullying in schools, Smithson says adult bullying is just as much of an issue, and something we need to address because it's adults actions that children so often follow.

"They are their children's first role model, they learn where they live," said Smithson. "They're going to think if my moms doing it or my dads doing it or whatever it's okay so they're going to think it's okay so they're going to do it to their peers."

Unlike the viewer who sent the hurtful email, leaders in Utica Safe Schools believe Jennifer Livingston is a role model for children because she's speaking out about who she is and that bullying is wrong.

"I think it's a pattern of behavior that in this culture is somewhat accepted, it's almost seen as a right of passage, and until we increase awareness and until people recognize what bullying is and what they can do to stop it I don't think we're going to see a change," said Jeremy Butler, Director of Programs for Utica Safe Schools.

For resources on bullying, Utica Safe Schools can be reached at 315-792-2205, their website is www.usshealthystudents.org.

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