ROSWELL, GA. Just about everyone has a story about being bullied in school. Whether it was physical or emotional, bullying seemed a part of life and, when we 'tattled,' adults would typically see bullying as building character.
If only there had been a way to stop bullying.
Far from wishful thinking, however, a pair of Roswell Rotarians and residents are attempting to do just that. Deborah Cwalina and Michael Schoppenhorst created the Be THE Voice? anti-bullying campaign.
I had always had a soft spot for kids who had been bullied, said Cwalina. I grew up with a brother who suffered at the hands of bullies.
People from our generation say it's a rite of passage", she said. "While that may be true of that generation, it doesn't need to be the norm."
Plus, society has changed. Bullying no longer stops at the school doors or outside a student's home.
"When you see kids committing suicide over posts on social media, that's taking it too far," Schoppenhorst said. "With social media, the whole school knows about it. And there are apps that allow people to be anonymous. We want to help these kids by making them feel empowered."
While there are plenty of programs dedicated to stopping bullying, most are focused on either stopping the bully or helping the victim. Be THE Voice instead focuses on those around the altercation - the bystanders.
"Where there is a bully, there is a bystander," Cwalina said. "If the bystander is quiet, they are giving support to the bully subconsciously."
The Roswell pair decided to create a program to encourage kids to watch out for bullying and stand up against the bully. While many anti-bullying programs hand out literature or hold lectures, Be THE Voice is more active in its approach…