Peace, One Child at a Time

Last Edited: Aug 07, 2018 12:00 PM

Dr. Cerullo’s campaign against bullying began when he was a “poor, skinny Italian kid” in middle school.

MILLVILLE, NJ — Claudio V. Cerullo, Ph.D. has a message, clear and emphatic: Stop bullying or suffer the personal and societal consequences. Dr. Cerullo recently addressed a crowd at Millville Charter School and convincingly demonstrated the perverse nature of bullying. Importantly, he pointed out that bullying is not limited to schools, that its many forms include domestic violence, road rage, child abuse, senior citizen victimization and workplace bullying.

He began what he prefers to call an “interaction,” not a “presentation,” by distributing the CCC Network Anti-Bullying Pre-Test for those in attendance to answer probing questions about their knowledge of the subject. During the program, participants gradually added new understandings to their test.

The national expert and founder and CEO of Teach Anti Bullying, Inc. (TAB) mesmerized his audience at times with detailed statistics interwoven with tragic stories of victims of bullying that resulted in suicide, attempted suicide, drug abuse, chronic psychiatric conditions, and shortened lives.

Cerullo’s style is involvement with his audience and those who gathered, while few in number, were actively engaged throughout the two-hour workshop. There were administrators, teachers, parents, and a school resource officer present.

The presenter has become an expert on his subject over a 20-year period. During that time, he has also served as a teacher, counselor, and school administrator. He is currently a local school principal.

“As schools prepare for the upcoming year, it’s important for parents to understand this pervasive issue and how they can help their children and school community by collaboratively working together,” Cerullo said.

“Bullying is a serious problem which causes pain, affects the victim’s ability to perform in school and leads to unhappiness,” Cerullo said. “We all have to learn better ways to treat each other.”

He even gave those in attendance an inventory for themselves to detect bullying with questions, such as:

• Have you upset another person for the fun of it, and

• Have you taken your anger out on an innocent person?

Naming and shaming, Cerullo gave the audience a list of potential predator apps (kik, Tinder, Snap Chat); potential bullying sites (whisper, Ask.fm); and deceptive advertising apps (Vaulty, Audio Manager, HICalculator).

He listed the dangers of the websites. For instance, he pointed out that YikYak was invented as a way to send anonymous threats to schools. He urged parents to closely monitor their children’s Internet use since many terrible stories of abuse and even death have begun with online interaction with imposters or predators.

Teach Anti Bullying is a national non-profit organization based in Havertown, Pennsylvania that facilitates help to children who are victims of bullying and school violence-related issues by inspiring the cooperation of educators, parents, community leaders, law enforcement, government officials and the childen themselves.

Cerullo said such widespread collaboration is the only path to curing the scourge of bullying, which causes many of the nationwide annual 4,600 teen suicides and the 348,000 school dropouts.

He has a particular interest and expertise in anti-bullying measures for special needs children such as those with autism, Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, and gifted children.

Since launching TAB, Cerullo has been hired across the country to reach audiences with his powerful approach. (He said he has interacted with more than 100,000 children, teachers, and parents in his work.)

He is the author of several empowering children’s books that were featured on the Ellen Degeneres show.

Cerullo said his campaign against bullying in a sense began when he was a “poor, skinny Italian kid” in middle school. There was violent prejudice against Italian immigrants in a town where most of the citizens weren’t Italian.

“I was often called ‘dago’ and ‘wop’ and punched whenever they got the chance,” he said. “Once, a bunch of tough guys beat me up and shattered my nose.”

At this point, he showed a slide of his injuries from that time. “It never healed properly despite years of surgery and other interventions.

“I was lucky my dad never knew what happened,” he went on, ironically. “We had the Italian tradition in my house—kid gets hit and doesn’t punch back, he gets whooped when he gets home.”

Cerullo said he was also stabbed twice and has the scars from those attacks.

“There is nothing I haven’t seen,” he noted.

Amazingly, decades later, some of his attackers found him through Facebook and several apologized for what they had done long ago.

“They are parents now, some of their own children are victims, they understand,” he said.

The presenter’s daughter was even endangered online when a person represented himself as a friendly young teen and sent intimate photos of himself to her.

“Because we had always talked about such situations, she came to me about it,” Cerullo related. “I found the guy—he was 42, and he was prosecuted and convicted for distributing child porn.”

“Dr. Cerullo gave a powerful and inspiring presentation, especially when he told the stories of his own victimhood,” said attendee J. Dominique Taylor, principal of Millville Charter School. “I also like how he has connected with victims nationally and tried to assist any way he could.”

TAB was founded in 2011. Under Dr. Cerullo and executive director Daniela Desiderio, the organization contracts for consultancies for parent/teacher workshops, conferences, victimization support services, school employees training, and school safety plans. Its motto is “Restoring Peace…One Child at A Time.”

Dr. Cerullo is convinced of his message, well informed and unrelenting; he sincerely feels he can make a difference in many lives.

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