Troy University’s Department of Counseling and Psychology, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program, the University’s Office of Service Learning and Civic Engagement and local-business CGI have teamed up to create awareness about bullying through events held throughout the month of October.
The event series, known as Bully Proof, focuses on the prevention of bullying, cyber-bullying and suicide.
The program is in its second year at Troy.
“The purpose of this event is to draw awareness to the fact that bullying is a problem not only in America and the world, but also in our community,”said Jonathan Cellon, coordinator for service learning & civic engagement.
“We’ve unfortunately lost some youth in our community because of that. This effort is to try to bring that out in the open, have dialogue, inform people about the issue and educate them on how to address it.”
Bully Proof kicked off on October 6th with “Suicide Prevention: What Parents Need To Know”, a presentation by Stephan Barry, an assistant professor in Troy’s Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation and Interpreter Training.
Events will continue with a 5K run on the square in downtown Troy on October 18. The race begins at 8 a.m., with a Kid’s Fun Run beginning at 9:15 a.m. Benton Brothers & Company, The Pot Holes and Jared Henderson will be providing live music and entertainment.
Among other activities will be exhibits and a book read-along for children. Registration for the 5K run is available online at www.bullyproof5k.eventbrite.com
Proceeds from the race will be used to implement an anti-bullying and peer-helper program in both Troy City and Pike County schools.
On October 21st, Adrienne Duke, assistant professor & extension specialist from Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences, will give a presentation titled: “Cyberbullying: What Parents Need to Know and How They Can Support Their Students”. The presentation will start at 7 p.m. in Hawkins Hall, Room 122.
The series will conclude at 7 p.m. on October 23rd with a town hall meeting and candlelight vigil. A panel of administrators, educators, school and clinical mental health counselors and professors will discuss the bullying, cyber-bullying and the detrimental effects of bullying and victimization.
The panel will answer questions from the audience in the hopes of raising community awareness on the topics.
According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ anti-bullying website, Stopbullying.gov, bullying is defined as the “unwanted, aggressive behavior” that is usually “repeated, or has the potential to be repeated over time” and includes such actions as “making threats, spreading rumors, or attacking someone physically or verbally.”
While bullying is typically thought of as something that occurs with middle school or high school aged individuals, bullying can also occur on college campuses. In this case, cyber-bullying is more prominent.
According to nobullying.com, Facebook and text messaging are among the most common forms of cyber-bullying.
“Social media sites have made cruelty and meanness public,” Ilja Terebin, chief executive of Ask.fm, a popular ask and answer website, said in a quote from a New York Times article titled “Being Bullied is Bad for Your Health”. “Previously these acts were invisible. Now they are on display to all.”
“Bullying is terrible,” said Leebo Tyler, a junior math major from Mobile. “It puts a hindrance on the person’s growth as a whole. It makes us conform to many things we may not want to conform to. Hopefully, the rate of bullying will decrease in the coming years so we can get past this issue and on to other issues.”
“(Bullying) is something that happens within our school systems and in our streets and also on our campus unfortunately,” Cellon said. “The less tolerance we have for activities the better and that strengthens not only the community but also the university.”