Presentation kicks off week of anti-bullying education
The national anti-bullying week falls in November, but several Lee County groups are getting a jump start on the observance this week.
Officer Keiomi Evans of the Sanford Police Department, a mother who also works with troubled youth in town, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sanford/Lee County and the First Presbyterian Church, will be working with the police department all week to educate kids on bullying — how to stop and properly report bullies, how to avoid minor actions that could turn into bullying and how to help the bullies themselves.
Monday afternoon, Evans was at the Boys and Girls Clubs' main location at O.T. Sloan Park speaking to the youngest children there about bullying, answering their questions and, after the presentation, getting hugs from many of them who approached to thank her.
"We all know that bullying is not just playing games," she told the children after they finished listing some of the acts they considered bullying, like spitting on someone, hitting people, using mean names or being overly rude. "It can cause serious harm."
Building on that sentiment, Evans said each day this week will offer something different to help bullies realize it's not OK to be bullies, and to help other children realize that there is help. She'll be relaying the same message today at 3:40 p.m. at First Presbyterian, then at 4:40 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Clubs' Church Street location, and she's also encouraging individuals from all over the community to draw sidewalk chalk art illustrating their thoughts about bullies. She's asking supporters to wear a blue shirt on Wednesday — showing their anti-bullying and cyber-bullying stance, and to make an extra effort to stop such acts.
On Thursday, students who make anti-bullying posters or write poetry about bullying can turn it in at the Boys and Girls Clubs or to Evans at the police station, and the winners will be announced Friday. The winning poster will be displayed at City Hall, she said. Students seen by adults standing up to bullies will also receive special certificates from Police Chief Ronnie Yarborough.
On Monday, Evans also asked the children not to bully others. Saying she realizes the aggression often stems from frustration at things going on at school or at home, she said she's more than happy to sit down with anyone one-on-one — and that all anyone has to do is ask an adult to get in contact with her, no questions asked.
"I don't want to have to deal with you at the Hillcrest Youth Center, where I work as a mentor for troubled youth," she said. "I would much rather work with you here and now."