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Forum to target bullying

Published 2:00am Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An anti-bullying organization will put a face to the problem of bullying Sunday at a special forum to be held at Jefferson Davis Community College.
Sponsored by JDCC, the City of Brewton, Brewton City Schools, Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa and the Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County, the forum is open to the public and will give students and parents a chance to hear a message about how destructive bullying can be.
“Whether you are 8 or 80, you need to be at this event,” said Lynda Brookshire with K.A.R.M.A. — Kids Against Ridicule, Meanness and Aggression — an anti-bullying organization that will conduct the forum.
Brookshire’s daughter Jessica, who founded the organization, will be the speaker and will address the signs, symptoms and answers to the issue of bullying. Jessica was a victim of bullying for “12 solid years,” her mother said; the young woman is now a law student and a former pageant participant.
“Jessica will make them uncomfortable; she will make them laugh; she will make them cry,” Lynda said.
The forum will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Woodfin-Patterson Auditorium at JDCC.
In an effort to curb bullying behavior throughout the city, a special anti-bullying forum will be conducted Sunday beginning at 2 p.m.
Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith said the program will continue to emphasize the importance of continuous communication between students and school staff.
“We have seen bullying behaviors in children ever since we’ve put children in the classroom,” Smith said. “We always address the issues, whether they fit into terms of bullying or mean-spirited behaviors. It’s important that we know about those things and we are going to address every one of those issues.”
Smith said specific points of anonymous communication have been put into place in the Brewton City School System to allow students to report suspected bullying activity.
“We have set up a tip-line of sorts through emails and texting to allow students to report issues and problems at the school in an anonymous report,” Smith said. “We have addressed every issue reported and have handled those situations.”
Smith said the forum planned for Sunday will be an opportunity for the community to learn more about the true aspects of bullying and what to do is they suspect bullying activity.
“The forum will address the signs of bullying problems,” Smith said. “The presentation will explain what to look for and what to do if suspected bullying behaviors is found. We can learn there are certain behaviors to watch for and how to respond if they do happen.”
Lynda Brookshire said bullying has always existed, but it has changed from what today’s adults may remember.
“The bullying we had is a lot different than what we have now,” she said.
At Karma’s Web site, thekarmara.org, Jessica Brookshire said the purpose of her organization’s forums and seminars is to teach children, as well as adults, to understand the power of their words and how they speak to others.
“It is my belief that no one should be criticized for his or her physical appearance, economic status, race, gender, hobbies or beliefs,” Brookshire said in her mission statement. “Instead, we should celebrate our diversity and seize the opportunity to learn from each other’s differences. These are lessons that K.A.R.M.A. seeks to pass on to our children. While it may sound ambitious, but think of what a different world this could be if everyone thought of others and encouraged one another. These children are the future and with K.A.R.M.A. I am changing the future one classroom at a time.”
Smith said the forum was coming just as National Bullying Awareness Week is kicking off.
“We are seeing more and more bullying cases across the country as far as behaviors that students and adults get involved with that are inappropriate,” Smith said. “It’s important to determine what behaviors are bullying and what aren’t. I think sometimes we see things that we consider are bullying behaviors isn’t actually bullying. Bullying is an ongoing situation and sometimes a single act can be referred to as bullying. This forum will help eliminate doubts and misconceptions of bullying and address the issues directly. This should help to make people aware of behaviors and things they can do to curb any problems before they get out of hand.”
The forum is open to the public free of charge.

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