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By Tia Lynn Ivey

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The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office held  the fourth annual Antibullying Rally last weekend, which brought out about 200 attendees. The event is a team effort between law enforcement officials, educators, ministers, and elected officials to deter Morgan County students from engaging in bullying. The four-hour event featured encouraging words from four speakers, a group prayer, a basketball game, a talent show, a DJ, and drawings for various prizes. Every child who attended the event also left with a fidget spinner as a prize.

“We were very excited about this year’s event,” said Olivia Laborn with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office. “We wanted to educate our children about bullying and to let the children know that they can get together to socialize and have a good time without any problems.”

This year’s Antibullying Rally featured a special memorial prayer led by Bishop Kenneth Jones from Springfield Missionary Baptist Church to honor the memory of four local people who died this year. Jones led the students in prayer for Michael Rhodes and Brittany Smith, two Morgan County High School students who died in a car crash earlier this year, Pastor Cedric Cotton of St. Paul’s AME Church in Madison, who died unexpectedly from a heart attack, and Laura Butler, long-time Morgan County NAACP president, who died of cancer.

“It was a very heartwarming moment,” said Laborn. “It was a prayer of unity, strength, and memorial tribute to those four people.”

In between the games and entertainment, several speakers delivered short talks on the dangers of bullying to the students, including Union Springs Pastor Robert Terrell, Morgan County Middle School Principal Hillary Meeler, Minister Cary Oglesby, the new minister at the Madison Church of Christ, Morgan County Elementary School Principal Laura Stills, and Pastor Benard Ivey, who is also a Morgan County school bus driver. Morgan County Commissioner Donald Harris, Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, and JROTC Teacher Barry Hines all performed drawings throughout the event to award various prizes to winning students. Bus Driver Jesse Hawkins Jr. and Georgia State Patrol Trooper Mosesly Little served as announcers during the event.  DJ Nick Lewan provided music for the children and the Elite Whoop Dogs girls and boys basketball team, summer basketball team in Madison, played a live basketball game for the children. Nathaniel Williams, Milfred Franklin, Kim Smith served ascoaches for of the Elite basketball teams.

Sixteen Morgan County students also participated in the Talent Show. 

“We had so many volunteers from the community for this event,” said Laborn. “So many people came together to reach out to these children. We felt extra blessed this year,” said Laborn.

According to a national antibullying campaign, Bullying Statistic, one in every four kids experiences bullying on a regular basis throughout their time in school.

Morgan County Citizen

“Between cyber bullying and bullying at school, the school bullying statistics illustrate a huge problem with bullying and the American school system.

In a recent SAFE survey, teens in grades sixth through 10th grade are the most likely to be involved in activities related to bullying. About 30 percent of students in the United States are involved in bullying on a regular basis either as a victim, bully or both. These school bullying statistics show what a problem bullying of all kinds in the United States has become. The recent school bullying statistics show that cyber bullying is becoming increasingly prevalent on school property as well as involving students even when they are not at school. Because of this growing number of kids affected by bullying, more and more schools throughout the country are cracking down on the measures taken to stop bullying,” stated the report.

Bullying is not just getting beat up on the playground, it includes verbal taunting, cyber bullying, spreading rumors, and social exclusion.

“When it comes to verbal bullying, this type of bullying is the most common type with about 77 percent of all students being bullied verbally in some way or another including mental bullying or even verbal abuse. These types of bullying can also include spreading rumors, yelling obscenities or other derogatory terms based on an individual’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Out of the 77 percent of those bullied, 14 percent have a severe or bad reaction to the abuse, according to recent school bullying statistics. These numbers make up the students that experience poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety about going to school and even suicidal thoughts (bullycide) as a result of being bullied by their peers. Also as part of this study, about one in five students admitted they are responsible for bullying their peers. Almost half of all students fear harassment or bullying in the bathroom at school, according to these school bullying statistics. As a result of this fear and anxiety of being bullied, many students will make excuses or find ways around going to school. School bullying statistics also reveal that teens ages 12-17 believe they have seen violence increase at their schools. In fact, these numbers also show that most violent altercations between students are more likely to occur on school grounds than on the way to school for many teens.”

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Department started an annaul antibullying event for kids to educate school children about the serious consequences to bullying and the devastating effects it can have on bullying victims.

“We are looking forward to doing this every year for our children,” said Laborn.

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