MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Students at Kreole Elementary in Moss Point got a lesson on bullying Thursday from a powerful motivational speaker. It's a message the school district said they felt was more important than ever right now following a recent string of violence in the city, as well as Wednesday's mass school shooting in Florida.
To help drive their point home, school officials invited a special guest to put a fun and entertaining twist on the program.
Rod Patterson, better known as Sir Rod, has been touring as a motivational speaker for 20 years. He has worked with recording artists such as Usher and Beyoncé for So-So Def Records out of Atlanta.
"I have a gift to speak to kids," he said. "For some reason, whether it's 800 or two, they'll listen."
Patterson talked about the different types of bullying from physical, verbal to accidental. He even brought up a type of bullying that comes from within.
"Self-bullies," he said. "Those are the kids that get bullied at school and they're already bullying themselves so that just manifests itself to where they're ready to take their own life. But before they go, they want to take somebody else with them.
"I'm trying to plant a seed early so when they get to high school, the seed that I plant today will grow and maybe prevent something like what happened Florida," he explained.
Many of the students have a solid approach to handling bullies.
"I will tell them to stop talking to me, or I will go tell my teacher if they don't stop talking to me," said second-grade student Malika Kelly. "If my teacher doesn't do anything, I'll go to the principal or the counselor."
Another second grader, Laelah Thompson, is well prepared to defend herself and anyone else.
"If I was getting bullied, I'd tell an adult," she said. "If someone else was getting bullied, I would tell the bully to stop and if they don't, I'd tell an adult."
Patterson said the recent shootings in East Moss Point call for a different message to high school students.
"I tell them that they're infected with something called hood disease," he said. "It's something they catch, like a cold, from bad associations, from the media. The same thing they think they need to do to survive in the hood is the same thing that gets them killed in the hood."
The Moss Point tour is being sponsored by Parents for Public Schools Moss Point Chapter and Comfort Inn Suites in Moss Point.