By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer
Morgan County Middle School MCMS wrapped up its third annual No Place for Hate week, an antibullying effort in conjunction with the Antidefamation League out of Atlanta, on Friday Jan. 24, culminating with three assemblies for all 982 students on the dangers of bullying.
The featured speaker, Cobe Jackson, a 13-year-old eighth grader from Cobb County, spoke to MCMS students about his own experience of being bullied and learning to overcome it. His story has been featured on Fox 5 Atlanta, CBS News, and several local newspapers.
Jackson and his friend Nicolas Badila, launched an antibullying campaign and website, winning an $800 grant from the very first Middle School WEBChallenge, sponsored by the TAG-Education Collaborative.
“I am here to talk to you about bullying,” began Jackson. “Bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior toward someone…When someone big or small uses their power to harm another.” Jackson asked the crowd of sixth-graders if they had ever been bullied nearly half of students’ hands shot up.
“There are many different ways you can stop bullying,” Jackson told the students. “Tell someone. That is the number one thing to do, the best thing possible to do. I’ve seen too many people end up killing themselves because they didn’t tell someone what was happening and get help.”
Jackson encouraged the students to be brave and look out for one another. “Speak up for those who don’t know how to speak up for themselves…Be a good example. If you help a person being bullied, others will see and will want to be as brave as you are and maybe do the same thing when they are in that situation,” said Jackson.
Jackson spoke about three different kinds of bullying: physical, verbal, and the ever-increasing cyberbullying that happens via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets. “Bullying is very serious,” warned Jackson. “It’s not a game.” Jackson went on to share about his work in raising awareness about bulling. “It’s about making your life better when there are so many obstacles coming your way.
I believe everyone can do that when they have help,” said Jackson. MCMS Counselor Michele Ramsey was excited to see Jackson connect with the students. “We thought it was a good idea to have kids listen to other kids instead of just another lecture from adults,” said Ramsey.
Ramsey and Nicole Outram, another counselor at MCMS, worked with the students throughout the week to address the issue of bullying. “I think bullying is a problem everywhere, nationwide, especially cyber-bully,” said Ramsey.
“We are teaching the kids the dangers of cyber-bullying. We are trying to raise awareness of bullying and prevent it from happening. We are teaching the kids what bullying is, how not to be a bystander, and how to stand up for others. We want our kids to learn about tolerance and diversity and acceptance,” she explained.
The antibullying assembly also featured an interpretive dance performed by MCMS Eight-Graders Peyton Jordan and Hope Chastain.
The two danced in unison to Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper, communicating the pain bullying causes and finding the strength to ultimately overcome it. MCMS students spent part of the week decorating their classroom doors with antibullying themes.
The winner will be announced sometime this week and the winning class will be rewarded with a pizza party. “They worked so hard on the doors,” said Ramsey. “This whole week was just about teaching the kids respect and how to come together.”