AOC, Family Tree, public officials team up against bullying
In the midst of a rash of widely publicized suicides by bullied teens, many of them gay and lesbian, Acadiana Open Channel and The Family Tree are joining forces to combat bullying through a series of public service announcements, a website, and through social media. The Bullying Stops With Me campaign is scheduled to launch within the next two weeks, beginning with PSAs on AOC and on a YouTube channel of the same name. A website, BullyStopsWithMe.com, is up (though still under construction), and the group also has a Facebook page.
On Tuesday, District 4 City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, his brother Gerald, who is Lafayette’s director of parks and recreation, and newly elected District 4 school board representative Tehmi Chassion filmed PSAs for the project. Each was bullied during adolescence.
“They all have stories that they want to tell of being bullied — Tehmi Chassion especially. He’s just basically out of college; his are rather fresh,” says project coordinator Stephen Handwerk, AOC’s board president. Handwerk’s company, Affordable Consulting, also works with Family Tree.
“Since I work with both AOC and the Family Tree, I thought they could play integral roles, if they talk with each other and figure out a program,” Handwerk says. “And that’s how we kind of came together, the three of us, not only with the emergency help — the crisis hotline and case managers — but from the community conversation side with AOC; both of these guys being uniquely suited, that’s the type of work they already do: parenting courses as well as counseling. I thought it would be the perfect match.”
Handwerk says he was motivated to begin the campaign after reading of the recent suicides across the country, as well as a brutal case of bullying in our own backyard at Youngsville Middle School.
“I think now in the past 30 days, if the media report was correct, we’ve had 16 suicides, teenagers committing suicide, and all directly related to bullying,” Handwerk says.
When the Bully Stops With Me website is operational, it will serve as resource center for families dealing with bullying, pointing them to counseling services and a 24/7 hotline. The Family Tree will also compile statistics on bullying in the area, produce reports and make recommendations to schools, and AOC will continue producing long- and short-form videos addressing the issue.
Adds Handwerk: “‘We’ve got to do something locally here before our kids feel that there’s no other choice but to take their own lives.”
The video below is from the Tuesday, Oct. 12 Fort Worth City Council meeting, during which District 9 Councilman Joel Burns delivers a moving plea for his community to aggressively address bullying.
MAY 20 This post by blogger CB Forgotston draws parallels between Gov. Bobby Jindal and two individuals he probably doesn't want to be aligned with: President Obama and former governor Edwin Edwards. CB says Jindal's trying to jack up the debt ceiling (an Obama play, according to CB) and buy votes from GOP leges who normally wouldn't go for that (an Edwards play, CB says).
MAY 20 Here's a post in the Baptist Message from an alumnus of Louisiana College. The author, Larry Burgess, calls on the leadership of the private school to take care of some pressing problems. Physical plant issues are critical and unaddressed, some faculty make so little they need government health care, and there is an atmosphere that does not encourage honest discussion, he writes. It's time to get things back in order, he says.
MAY 20 This post in Gambit tells of a benefit concert scheduled to raise money for the 19 people shot during a Mother's Day second line on Frenchmen Street in NOLA. Among them was Gambit blogger Deb Cotton, who spoke frequently about violence in the city and reported on the city's second line culture. Gambit's foundation, along with other NOLA non-profits, also is selling t-shirts to raise money for the victims.
MAY 20 Blogger Robert Mann is critical of the personal interest some legislators take in their work here, sharing the comments one NOLA solon made in explaining his decision to vote against a bill that would require people to stop discriminating against female workers. His wife might lose some salary, so he was going to have to vote against the equal pay bill, Conrad Appel said. Appel and everyone who heard him should have been ashamed, but they weren't, and that's what is wrong in that building, Mann argues.
MAY 20 American Press columnist Jim Beam writes about the budget again here, urging kudos for the House and its efforts to try to fix the budget as opposed to passing on a flawed and messy rubber-stamped document as it usually does. The Senate already is poo-pooing the effort, but instead Senators should be trying to find a way to improve it as well, Beam argues. He also has some predictions in here from LABI and CABL.
MAY 20 Here's a link to the photo gallery from Tulane's graduation this past weekend. Dr. John and Allen Toussaint played together and received honorary degrees. The Dalai Lama was so entranced by their performance he got up from his seat and walked across the stage to stand next to them. He even participated in a second line with his own personal, saffron-colored umbrella. To the graduates, he urged them to think about creating a peaceful, hopeful life and society.
MAY 20 This Picayune story questions the rhetoric of NOLA officials who say the city, aside from having a "murder problem," is safe. The talking points generally are that the criminals are killing each other, but everything else is OK. The police chief there says that even Lafayette is more dangerous than NOLA. But crime experts interviewed here say that NOLA's numbers indicate one of two things: either people are so used to violence they don't report it, or somebody's "fudging the numbers."
MAY 20 The Advocate's Mark Ballard writes about some of the background maneuvering that took place during the development of budget alternatives in the Legislature. From Rep. Joel Robideaux being called a "tax and spend liberal" to robo-call influence, Ballard lets us in on some of the work that happens behind the scenes but usually doesn't make it into the Advocate's daily coverage of the session.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.