Missouri’s Attorney General is applauding Tuscumbia High School students for creating an anti-bullying campaign.
Chris Koster is praising the students for their effort in creating a “kindness campaign” to combat bullying. Students began the campaign after hearing a presentation about internet safety and cyberbullying from Koster’s Education Director, Tim Durkin, nearly two years ago. Koster says it’s a big issue that needs to be addressed.
“It’s now annually talked about in varying degrees over the General Assembly,” he said. “There are bills introduced annually about it because it’s such a serious issue.” He says the high school students have made more strides forward in success than the General Assembly has had in the last ten years on the topic.
Koster says over the last several years, he’s been concerned over the issue of internet safety for young people, with bullying as a big part of that concern. “Bullying in school is a topic that has received a lot more attention in recent years and part of the problem is that bullying has become a 24 hour phenomenon,” he said.
“In the old days the 3 o’clock bell would ring and students would go home; in the modern era with text messaging, cell phones, and the internet, a student can be bullied or victimized 24 hours a day.” Koster says this has heightened the concern around the issue.
However, the students at Tuscumbia are seeing a positive effect with their “Kindness is Cool” campaign. “The students themselves decided to do something about it and they came up with their own plan, their own idea, and they put it in place,” he said.
Tuscumbia High School student, Sara Abbett, 18, who’s involved with the campaign says if bullying can happen at her school, it can happen anywhere. “If it happens in our small hallways, where everyone knows everybody by their first name, I can’t imagine how awful it is in bigger schools when there is ten times as many people,” she said.
He says the students’ anti-bullying campaign has led to impressive results at Tuscumbia. Koster says he hopes the campaign can be replicated in other schools across the state. Statistics show that since starting the “Kindness is Cool” campaign, reported incidents of bullying decreased almost 20 percent and school attendance has increased from 94.8% to 98.2%.
AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (0:58)