Source: ROCK Task force
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. That's the message that will soon be heard around the community thanks to the efforts of River Region ROCK─ Rrespect Others, Create Kindness─ a new taskforce that aims to prevent bullying in schools and communities and promote a culture of kindness and respect across the River Region.
At a kick-off event held earlier today at St. James United Methodist Church, River Region ROCK steering committee members, community leaders and more than 50 representatives from area churches, law enforcement, public and private schools, area businesses and community agencies discussed plans to work together to address bullying.
"In recent years, bullying has escalated from mild verbal attacks and pushing, to real violence and attacks through cyberspace that too often have tragic consequences," said Melanie Beasley, Public Affairs Director, Family Sunshine Center. ROCK will work to change attitudes about bullying and raise our level of respect for others through positive reinforcement and education. Raising the level of awareness among young people and adults is important."
Every seven minutes a child somewhere in the U.S. is bullied, according to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). Because bullying isn't confined to schools, Laura Hicks, with Stamp Idea Group said ROCK's community approach helps spread the message across diverse groups. "Churches, public and private schools, businesses,
non-profit organizations, city and county leaders and law enforcement are all involved because the need for kinder, more respectful communities is universal. Every one of these groups can bring something unique to the table to prevent bullying. We're committed to preventing bullying over the long haul."
ROCK began as a branding campaign for the Family Sunshine Center and Montgomery Public Schools that was created by Stamp during its annual CreateAthon in 2011. Brightly colored ROCK posters that included a kid-friendly, anti-bullying message and instructions on how to report bullying incidents soon began appearing in MPS' 33 elementary schools. Then, ROCK stickers, T-Shirts, arm bracelets and pencils were incorporated as behavior incentives to complement the bullying prevention curriculum offered by the Family Sunshine Center and MPS. As more elementary students became empowered to report bullying in schools using the ROCK materials, steering committee members began to recognize that the respect message was desperately needed in the community, too.
"I believe the rise in crime and bullying in our communities is a direct reflection of a growing lack of respect for others. Respect others, create kindness is a simple message that can resonate with everyone, but it has to be instilled in young people early, and reinforced in our attitudes and behaviors as adults, too," said MPS public information manager Mona Davis.
ROCK's goals are to raise awareness about bullying in all its forms; educate the community and empower young people on ways they can help prevent bullying; promote programs that advocate respect for others; and foster partnerships with community groups to advance the ROCK message.
ROCK is not designed to address individual incidents of bullying or harassment, nor enforce school policies or local or state laws on harassment. Parents or students who are being bullied and harassed should report the incident to their school principal, local Board of Education and/or local law enforcement.
Plans are underway to develop a public awareness campaign that could include public service announcements, presentations for schools and community groups, and signage and billboards. Programs will also be developed.
"We are still so new, we're not sure of everything we will do yet, but we know that bullying prevention is something that just can't wait," said John Wible, Tutoring Coordinator for Gateway Baptist Church. "Our children need to know that we as adults take this matter seriously. They are our future and we owe it to them to keep them safe."
For more information on future events, visit http://facebook.com/RiverRegionRock
or call (334) 223-6844 or (334) 206-2100.
1720 Valley View Drive