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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nationwide, 20 percent of students in grades 9-12 experienced bullying.

Kathleen Walsh, a local children's advocate, sees bullying as a problem that needs to stop.

"The statistics show that 160,000 students per year miss school because of issues relevant to bullying," Walsh said.

It's a number that Walsh believes can be curtailed, if enough people take a stand on the issue and enough resources and time are dedicated to education.

"I teach the kids about compassion and tolerance," she said. "Those aren't skills you're born with. Those are skills you are taught."

What began four years ago as a senior project in the Abington Heights School District has now evolved into a region-wide event, hosted by the Parents Loving Children Through Autism Foundation.

Walsh said things she heard while presenting in the schools alarmed her.

"There were tales of bullying even into the first grade," she said. "I said I think we need to use our talent show as a means to address this."

The annual event is overseen by a committee of students from throughout the area - Scranton, Riverside, Mid Valley, Dunmore, Abington Heights, Crestwood - are involved.

"We have about 20 performers, one from each district," she said. "Not only is it spread across districts it also includes people up to age 25."

Walsh explained that the event had been held in December, but was moved into the month of February

"This is the fourth talent show we've held," she added. "We're just trying to make the world a better place one student at a time."

Admission to the show is $5 for adults and $3 for students, with proceeds to benefit anti-bullying programs throughout the area. The curtain rises at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Riverside High School.