Adrianna Sgarlata

Daily Point of Light # 3424 Mar 20, 2007

Adrianna developed a service platform in 2004 entitled: “Behaving Respectfully and Valuing Others” and began researching bullying protection measures in Virginia schools, since she herself was severely bullied as a child. Virtually nothing existed. After Columbine, we now are acutely aware that bullying leads to violence. One in every four students will be a victim of violence this year.

Every student deserves to attend a school that is safe and secure, free of fear, and conducive to learning. Yet about 6% of students report not going to school due to feeling unsafe at school or on their way to and from school. Half of all parents surveyed feared for their children's safety when sending them off to school. One out of every 10 students who drops out of school does so because of repeated bullying.

Of the nearly 1.2 million K-12 Virginia students, nearly 117,000 are estimated to be affected by bullying. Nationally over 5 million victims suffer at the hands of bullies.

Bullying leads to increased vandalism, shoplifting, truancy, and drug use. Bullies are four times more likely than non-bullies to be convicted of crimes by age 24 and 60% of bullies have at least one criminal conviction.

Bully victims suffer also, exhibiting more health and emotional problems than their non-bullied peers well into adulthood.

Adrianna became an advocate for children’s rights to a bully free school experience, and was asked eventually to serve as the Virginia Director of Bully Police, USA, a nationwide volunteer organization composed primarily of mothers and fathers whose children had sadly ended their lives (“bullycide”) to escape the torment of their bullies. Adrianna has addressed students, parents, and community leaders, encouraging adoption of school-wide bully prevention efforts while educating youth on ways to handle conflict.

Adrianna initiated a State-wide drive for the passage of a law to protect victims from bullies. She had been cautioned by some of Virginia’s legislators and experts in the field of bullying prevention and told her efforts were doomed to failure, since during the past 10 years of efforts legislation had never made it out of the Virginia Delegates sub-committee on education. This was due to the strong lobbying efforts of various groups intent on maintaining school district autonomy without government “interference”. Adrianna marshaled individual support and media attention, lobbied relentlessly, and even testified on behalf of legislation.

Articles included in this nomination attest to Adrianna’s eventual success, culminating after hundreds of hours of successful lobbying, in receiving the pen used by Governor Warner to sign two different bully prevention bills into law. Children in Virginia schools are now safer than those in 25 other States without such laws.

Adrianna developed a novel program where high school students worked to create bullying awareness and prevention “skits” to teach elementary school student leaders who in turn taught their fellow classmates.

None of Adrianna’s activities, prior to being crowned Miss Virginia 2006 in June of 2006 were ever paid for by a sponsoring organization. So far as Miss Virginia, her fees received are funded by individuals or organizations wishing to contract her services through the Miss Virginia Organization for parades, ceremonial, educational or singing engagements. Adrianna funds activities personally, including those such as lobbying efforts, speaking to Chambers of Commerce, civic organizations and various clubs.

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