Community partners joined first-time Principal Ben Lundy of Byram Middle School to rally against bullying during it’s Anti-Bullying Awareness Day, February 9. During three different sessions from 10:30 a.m. – 3:40 p.m. the anti-bullying team raised the level of consciousness of boys in grades 6-8.
The occasion’s theme was Stop Bullying – Together We Can Be Bully Free. Juan Cloy, Mississippi project director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, said social networks are ideal tools for various kinds of bullying. He discussed the social networks which included cyber bullying, digital fingerprints, and cyber stalking.
Cloy mentioned that many children become victims because messages are sent to intimidate or threaten them. He said many children commit suicide because they believe they are being controlled by online bullying. He appealed to the boys to stand up against bullying by “standing up against people who bully.”
O’nae Chatman, nationally renowned speaker and founder of Chatman International LLC, cautioned the students to be more than bystanders by adhering to the tools of character, leadership, commitment, and self- esteem. “If we have more people speaking against bullying, the less people we will have who are pro bullying,” said the speaker. Chatman then suggested that the boys be game changers. “You can change the game. You’re powerful. Be the change. Think before you speak. You can actually change the game. The choice is yours,” Chatman charged.
Kenneth Bryant, Community Relations, Hinds County Sheriff’s Department, informed the crowd that they have to live with the choices they make and face the consequences of their actions. “When you make the wrong choice, you have to wear special shoes and special clothes. Police will find you. You become suspect,” Bryant asserted. “Treat people like you want to be treated,” he added.
John Neal (Ed.S.), associate superintendent of Community Relations, Hinds County Schools, explained that anti-bullying falls under dropout prevention team initiatives which consist of approximately 35 people from various professions, including administrators, parents, law enforcement, community college representatives, health care providers, politicans, students, counselors, teachers, exceptional services, and behavioral health services. “This project is a first-time effort. Our job is to design initiatives that support what the district and school already do. The anti-bullying initiative strives to educate children to recognize bullying and get help. We are projecting to receive data from the previous year to determine the number of case reductions there might be,” said Neal.
Lundy expressed gratitude to the speakers who addressed anti-bullying. He emphasized that the children needed to hear representatives other than teachers and administrators at Byram Middle School discuss the consequences of bullying. “The message is not received the same as that of a different voice,” he commented.