When it comes to bullying, there are numbers that could easily move some to declare that it's worse than we thought.
According to the Tennessee Department of Education's Bullying and Harassment Compliance Report issued under a law passed in 2012, there were 7,555 cases of bullying reported statewide. Of that number, 5,478 were confirmed.
"This is a serious problem," said Debbie McClennon, organizer of the "Anti-Bully Campaign Rally" slated for Saturday (Feb. 15th). "Our kids are frustrated, and they always say the same thing – that parents can't help, teachers can't help, and principals can't help. Victims of bullying feel they have no help, no safe haven. This problem is getting worse. It's not just going to go away."
McClennon of Sam's Video Production TV Network is sponsoring the rally at 4 p.m. at the Hickory Ridge Mall, 6075 Winchester Rd.
"We're expecting about 300 to come out – students, parents, and everyone who is concerned about this growing problem," said McClennon. "We've invited elected officials to attend. Mayor Wharton confirmed attendance on Tuesday. Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford and representatives from the Memphis Police Association will also be there. We want to get everyone involved. To tell our children 'there is nothing we can do' is unacceptable.'"
Organizers are asking parents to bring their children out for an afternoon of performances, speakers and helpful information on dealing with a bullying situation.
Priscilla Williams, parent of a 6th-grade daughter at White Station Middle School, how disconcerting a bully can be to a child's classroom experience.
"My daughter has constantly been a victim of bullying by several girls at school," said Williams. "One of them grabbed her neck and began choking her while the other students just kind of stood around and watched. I went over to the school and met with the principal. The girl was expelled, but I also asked that this young lady get some kind of psychological evaluation. When she was asked why she attacked my daughter, she just said, 'I don't know.' Bullying is a real problem, and it's time to come up with real solutions."
McClennon expressed disappointment that she had received no response from anyone at Shelby County Schools.
SCS Board Chairman Kevin Woods told The New Tri-State Defender late Tuesday that, "Any effort by those in our community who are committed as we are committed to finding solutions for bullying in our schools has the full support of Shelby County Schools. I have already indicated on my calendar that I will be in attendance. And I want to thank Ms. McClennon and other organizers for bringing greater awareness to the issue of bullying. Together, we can work to insure the well-being of all our students."
McClennon feels that devising workable solutions to bullying will eliminate other problems.
"Students keep resorting to bringing weapons to school, guns and knives, to protect themselves. It's wrong, of course, but I've talked to these kids, and many are in fear of getting jumped on, many times by multiple people. They are not in gangs; they are afraid. And they feel that adults either can't help or won't help. We have been pretty ineffective in addressing the issue of bullying."
A pre-rally show will begin at 3 p.m., featuring young local performers. An all-youth panel will share some insight on incidents panelists have seen or personally experienced in relation to bullying.
For more information, go to: SVPTVnetwork.com