Bullying has transformed from what some would have referred to in the past as a “right of passage” in growing up and learning to defend yourself to now a growing epidemic that is not only a national issue, but affects us on the home-front in Georgia as well.
- According to the National Education Association, PACER Center, and StopBullying.gov, 1 in 7 students in grades K – 12 are either a bully or have been a victim of bullying.
- Based on previous incident reports, Atlanta Public Schools had the second highest rate of bullying among students in the 2014-15 school year in metro Atlanta with 440 bullying incidents resulting in disciplinary action and DeKalb schools had the most with 849, according to the Georgia Department of Education.
A Metro Atlanta non-profit organization for youth, S.T.O.P. Inc., founded in 2009, has accepted StopBullying.gov’s call to action to promote awareness and present solutions to end the bullying culture and cultivate educational, social and emotional growth by launching a video campaign to dismantle the culture of bullying in schools, summer camps, churches, and communities.
The video campaign, “R.A.F.T.S.,” (Raising Awareness for Teen Safety) is a series of short testimonials that will premiere at S.T.O.P.’s Breaking The Chains Catalyst Fundraiser on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at the Saint Philip A.M.E. Church in Atlanta and also used at future rallies and events to bring an end to the hurt caused by bullying. Videos will tell the stories of students and those affected by bullying from the following organizations:
- Vitiligo Bond Inc. (VBI) is a non-profit organization founded in November 2010 that aims to provide support for those living with vitiligo.
- Diamond In The Rough (DITR), an award winning, faith-based, non-denominational, youth development and leadership program dedicated to “Transforming the world . . . One child, one family, one community at a time.”
- Kynnedi Smith, a motivational speaker who shares with schools and communities her story of being bullied. “Bullying is a serious issue in our schools and so many are suffering in silence. Let’s Stand Up! & Speak Out!”
- Socks and Stuff is a community service based club at Westlake High School, which helps the homeless around Atlanta.
- James A. Jackson Elementary’s School of the Arts is a Fine Arts Magnet Program with a unique curriculum within the walls of Jackson Elementary since it’s inception in the fall of 2009.
- Jackson Memorial Baptist Church’s youth programs for elementary, middle, and high school students whose youth ministry desires to positively impact others.
S.T.O.P.’s motto “Breaking The Chains” simply means in order to break the chains of various cycles, work in the community must be done. The anti-bullying campaign will allow S.T.O.P. to operate in their purpose of alleviating the hardships students face on a daily basis by allowing forums where students can have open dialogue in regards to self-awareness, education, career goals, and cultural issues that affect them. The goal is to encourage adolescents to speak out on various issues that would otherwise be left unheard. By offering various forums for youth, S.T.O.P. provides an atmosphere to inspire solutions rather than youth resorting to violence or other social ills.
For more information about the R.A.F.T. video campaign and how you can assist in the rally to end bullying, visit www.wearerafts.org and visit www.studentstalkingoutproblems.org for more information on S.T.O.P. Inc.