As children prepare to go back to school, one community outreach group felt that now is the perfect time to talk with students about bullying and the long lasting effects it has. Several speakers addressed hundreds of grade school students from across the coast, about starting this school year off on a positive note, but the focal point of the program was about anti-bullying.
“If they're in trouble, if they're being bullied, be sure to get help. Don't let it just sizzle, because it can explode,” said Alexandria Penn.
She's the founder of Champions against Bullying. Penn travels the U.S. speaking with groups about the harsh consequences of bullying. Penn was invited to the coast for the first time by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Her message: learning is impaired when children are scared.
“People don't fully understand the gravity of it, the enormity, and the severity. They don't understand that bullying at this time is a very simple passive word. It's a lot more than that, because they're taking their lives,” said Penn.
SCLC President, Ricky August, agrees. That's why he and his team decided to incorporate an anti-bullying message into this year's back to school rally. “We've just been kind of looking at the news and all of the young people who have committed suicide over the past year or two, and we thought that even the local area so that kind of focused our interest there,” said August.
The students were bused in from cities across the coast. They came to hear the anti-bullying message, and hopefully take home a new bike. August just wants students to go back to school with the right attitude and mindset. “I tell them you start the new year off fresh no matter what you did last year, new teacher, new environment, and that's why we're trying to do this at the start of the school year,” said August.
Next week, the same students will be treated to a cookout at Hiller Park.