Anti-bullying rally in Gulfport draws more than 20 children

Published: Oct. 8, 2022 at 9:00 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - It’s a message that requires telling over and over again, and it never gets old for those promoting the anti-bullying story, because it could save someone’s life. At the second annual Anti-Bullying Rally on Saturday in Gulfport, organizers hoped to stop the practice before it starts.

It’s the kind of rally that doesn’t require a lot of cheering and dancing. It requires talking and a lot of listening – the earlier, the better.

“Maybe they’ll feel more comfortable in the future to come to that person,” said organizer Anita Harrion. “Maybe there will be a key person they can come to and talk to about them being bullied, or how can I stop being a bully.”

The rally was organized by the Christian-based Masonic organization Heroines of Jericho, and its 16th District Palace of Children. The 20-plus attendees were separated into elementary and junior high and high school groups. “Each grade level, you have to come at them with a different tactic,” Harrion said.

And the key is a give-and-take conversation. “We figured we would do events like this and hopefully they will continue to grow to help parents as well as the local community to be aware and in ways to prevent it,” said Veneice Barnett with Heroines of Jericho. “And we figure if we spread kindness through our youth, which is where it starts, then they will be the leaders of their own generation.”

Like 15-year-old Zaccheus Smith. And he’s all in for getting the message out.

“The more you do it, the more it will aspire other people to do it around the world,” he said.

Smith had his own run-in with a bully, which he said gave him suicidal thoughts. But he learned something transformational. “When a person is bullying, it’s something that’s going on with them,” he said. “So, you have to just inspire them to stop bullying and actually think about other people’s feelings.”

His advice to victims? “You will get help,” he said. “No matter what you think, you will get help. It’s not that bad for you to just go up to somebody and say, ‘Oh, my God! I’m being bullied by this person; I’m getting bullied by that person.’ Don’t be scared to do it. Go reach out to somebody.”

Organizers have already set next year’s rally for Oct. 20 in Biloxi.

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