Bullies be gone

Published 3:49 pm Monday, March 22, 2010

Many of Pelham’s Riverchase Middle School students are sporting new bracelets that look a lot like Lance Armstrong’s famous Live Strong bracelets, but these look-alikes are blue and yellow with the words “Stand Strong” imprinted on them. What is “Stand Strong?”

The phrase and the bracelets are the idea of Miss Fountain City Jessica Brookshire.

A part of Brookshire’s platform as a competitor in this year’s Miss Alabama pageant, her anti-bullying message is being received with enthusiasm by parents, students and teachers.

The bracelets remind kids to stand S.T.R.O.N.G. against bullies. Brookshire said, “Power in numbers makes the fight easier than a struggle alone. Standing strong teaches children how to deal with a bully.” S.T.R.O.N.G. stands for:

1. Say Something.

2. Tell someone.

3. Respect the feelings of others.

4. Offer a helping hand to those in need.

5. Never use your words to hurt others.

6. Give your best everyday in everything you do.

Brookshire’s “Stand Strong” bracelets symbolize her main platform, which is K.A.R.M.A. This acronym stands for Kids Against Ridicule Meanness and Aggression.

Brookshire, who suffered at the hands of bullies, calls herself a victor, not a victim.

She is a woman on a mission, and her mission is to end bullying among school-aged children.

Brookshire spoke last week, along with Tina Meier, at Riverchase Middle School.

Meier is the mother of Megan Meier, a Missouri 13 year-old who committed suicide after being bullied.

Megan’s death underscores the new avenues available to bullies.

Today, bullies can be truly relentless, following their victims into their home via the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook.

D.A.R.E. officer Carrie Bowman sold more than 800 Stand Strong bracelets at Riverchase Middle.

Sixth-grader Audri Murray said, “I did get a Stand Strong bracelet. I thought the presentation was very powerful.

I will stand up for someone else if I see a bully in action, because I would hope that someone would also stand up for me — and the bully would know that he or she could not win and would be defeated.”

Murray’s wise remarks bring to mind other words of wisdom from the Bible. Luke 6:31 says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

If we are to have kindness in our community, that kindness must begin with each one of us — in our face-to-face world and our virtual world.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us.