MILLEDGEVILLE — A group of Georgia College students in the Bobcat Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) have created an anti-bullying campaign with a mission to raise awareness of physical, verbal and cyber bullying among children, teens, college students and parents.
“Everyone has seen bullying explained on a large scale and is aware of its most serious side effects,” said Chelsea Hinkel, a campaign team member. “We are striving to educate our audience on the lesser known forms and effects of bullying though a unique angle.”
As part of the annual Bateman Case Study Competition, facilitated by PRSSA National, Georgia College students Hinkel, Amanda Brodzik, Helen Gaillet, Brina Potvin, Michele McGuire, with the help of faculty advisor Dr. Kristin English, kicked off the “Put Some South in Your Mouth: Belles and Beaus Don’t Bully” initiative last week.
“This year, the theme is anti-bullying, specifically targeting 10 to 19 year olds on the prevention of youth bullying. We really wanted to focus on a localized campaign and look at it from a different angle,” said Brodzik, Bobcat PRSSA president. “Everyone knows about the southern hospitality, but we wanted to look at bullying in more of a fun and different way than it was done in the past. We wanted to regionalize a southern feel to it.”
To kick off the campaign, Maj. John Davis of the Milledgeville Police Department spoke to more than 30 High Achievers program students at Baldwin High School last week about cyber bullying and consequences of such behavior before PRSSA members conducted interactive activities.
“I feel like it went really well and had a very positive response,” Brodzik said. “High Achievers are the best of the best in Baldwin High School and they’re a good group of kids. They were really up to the idea and taking it forward.”
The campaign tour continued with an anti-bullying awareness rally at the Wellness Depot Monday at which Dr. Catherine Rojas, Georgia College coordinator of outreach services and counselor, and Officer Jeff Miller of Georgia College Department of Public Safety enlightened those in attendance about bullying in relation to the college campus. A breakout session followed with representatives from various school organizations and Greek life sharing the impact of bullying related to their group’s mission. Organizations represented included Delta Zeta, Alpha Delta Pi, Theta Chi, Pi Kappa Alpha, Gamma Sigma Sigma, Pride Alliance, Black Student Alliance, Sequins and Smiles, Empower, Student Government Association and Diversity Peer Educators. Southern-style foods were donated by KFC, Piggly Wiggly, Georgia Bob’s and Kroger.
“I hope students take away three points from [this rally]. I hope students recognize bullying behavior and if they are the ones being the bully, they would think and stop it. If they’re being bullied, then they will speak up; and hope they pass along information to their younger brothers, sisters and cousins to spread the message about appropriate behavior,” Rojas said at the rally before speaking about cyber bullying and the impact of social media. “Relational and emotional aggression is just as damaging as hitting someone. People don’t realize that what you say can be damaging or even illegal.”
“We’ve gotten so conditioned to this type of stuff and people just don’t see it as a crime. We get a lot of terroristic threats, and Facebook and cellphones are the top-leading problems for bullying,” Miller added. “I hope these students get a good grip before they get in our hands.”
The mass communication students plan to visit the local Boys & Girls Club at 3 p.m. today and conclude the tour Thursday with an assembly for Early College students and parents in the Peabody Auditorium from 9:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
The five-member group will also create an in-depth campaign book for submission to PRSSA National for it to be judged and hopefully selected as one of the top three. If chosen, the members will travel to New York City and present their anti-bullying campaign initiative for a chance to win a monetary award.
“[The campaign] is a reference to southern values and hospitality. The vast majority of our community was raised in the south, but has let their southern manners fall to the wayside when it comes to bullying. After someone attends one of our events, we want them to remember to put some south in their mouth the next time they feel the urge to bully another person,” McGuire said. “We have received some great feedback. [The campaign] is really cutting through the anti-bullying clutter. At the end of the day, if we are able to end the onslaught of bullying for one student in Baldwin County, we feel that we have done our job.”
Bobcat PRSSA was founded in 2008 and is now a nationally recognized and awarded chapter, and holds the esteem of being distinguished as a Star Chapter. With more than 110 members, the school organization offers professional development, networking and leadership opportunities to students.
For more information about PRSSA, or the anti-bullying campaign tour, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.southinyourmouth.wix.com/2013.
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