City tackles bullying

As part of the nationally designated Bully Prevention Month, Murray’s Bully Free Community Education Campaign is planning a number of events for the month of October designed to educate community members.

The Bully Free Community Education Campaign, which officially kicked off in January, is teaming up with various organizations to promote a bully-free environment in Murray with the ultimate goal of establishing a local ordinance against such acts.

Jody Cofer Randall, chairman of the Human Rights Commission in Murray which established the campaign, said the group has worked with business leaders and faith leaders and now are in a position of evaluating where its campaign should go next.

Randall said one of the ways they are moving forward is by teaming up with the Character Counts Coalition of Murray-Calloway County and its chair Linda Avery to establish a pledge which Murray businesses and schools could take showing their support for the groups’ efforts.

Avery and Cofer Randall as well as a number of other representatives from their organizations collaborated in and were present at the signing of a proclamation last week by Calloway County Judge-Executive Larry Elkins and Mayor Bill Wells declaring October as Bullying and Character Counts Month.

Cofer Randall said while the Character Counts Coalition does not focus on bullying alone, both organizations endorse similar character traits and so it made sense for the two organizations to partner.

While the Character Counts Coalition already has an established pledge for businesses, Cofer Randall said they are currently in negotiations for establishing a pledge against bullying and a standardized emblem which could represent both causes.

The Bully Free Community Education Campaign has also recently entered into a partnership with Paul Bubb, the Associate athletic director for External Affairs and Murray State’s athletic department.

Cofer Randall said they will shortly begin filming a commercial to be played during the half-time of basketball games, featuring Murray State basketball players who are standing up to bullying.

Cofer Randall said while the Bully Free Education Campaign will not continue forever, it will leave lasting marks on Murray.

One of these marks he would like to see come out of this campaign would be the passing of a local ordinance against bullying.

He said they are still working on figuring out what would be in any ordinance they propose, but perhaps it would allow for a fee to be levied against businesses and individuals caught in violation of the ordinance.

Cofer Randall said they have been working with the city attorney carefully on the wording of the ordinance so it will be able to hold up in court.

“We certainly don’t want to do anything which infringes on somebody’s protected rights,” he said. “But at the same time, there are some things we could likely do with an ordinance that would mandate whether bullying is in our schools or our businesses and what certain kind of actions would not be tolerated.”

He said this type of municipal legislation would be the only of its kind in Kentucky and surrounding counties have been drawing off of and using Murray’s Bully Free Education Campaign as inspiration for their own local campaigns.

Said Cofer Randall: “We know bullying is happening so why sit around and complain about it when we can actually fix it?”

 

Story by Ben Manhanke, Assistant News Editor