The statistic came from a recent survey, according to Stand Up HoCo, an anti-bullying initiative through the Howard County Local Children's Board. Over the next few weeks, Stand Up HoCo has set up focus groups around the county for parents to discuss what's going on and what to do about it.
Recently Jaki Ulman, the wife of County Executive Ken Ulman, also launched a campaign called the "HoCo Blue Pinky Project" in partnership with Stand Up HoCo.
Women and girls are asked to paint their pinkies blue and make a "pinky promise" to stand up to bullying, then post their pictures on the StandUp HoCo Facebook page or on Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag #HoCoBluePinky.
"As a proud mom of two wonderful daughters, it's important to teach them to respect each other and themselves," Jaki Ulman said in a YouTube video promoting the project. "We are going to make a pinky promise to stand up to bullying in our community."
The HoCo Blue Pinky Project focuses on girls because "we know that girls are more likely than boys to experience cyberbullying, rumor-spreading and social exclusion," according to the Stand Up HoCo website, which says a national campaign inspired the initiative.
County Executive Ken Ulman mentioned the HoCo Blue Pinky Project in his March 20 "State of the County" address, the week the effort launched. He said his girls had already painted their pinkies blue.
Since then, schools, athletic teams and individuals have been sharing their pictures and commitment to prevent bullying. On Twitter, Clarksville Middle said: "#hocobluepinky isn't just for girls. Everyone can @standuphoco to bullying!" The school included boys in its picture.
This spring, Stand Up HoCo invites parents to focus groups to discuss and learn what to do about bullying among Howard County youths:
- 6:30–8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, at the Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, in Columbia
- 6:30–8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2, at the North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, in Laurel
- 6:30–8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9, at Gary J. Arthur Community Center, 2400 Route 97, Cooksville
- Community Town Hall from 6:30–8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7, at a location to be determined.