Sponsored by Angel Care Ambulance Service co-owner Mickie Ochoa and Stephanie Silvas, a Corpus Christi attorney who grew up in Beeville, the first-time event was a resounding success, raising awareness about the growing national problem.
Local law enforcement and school leaders addressed the crowd, including several parents with young children.
Beeville Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Sue Thomas and State Rep. J.M. Lozano spoke about new laws passed during the most recent legislative session in Austin that will aid enforcement of anti-bullying efforts, prescribing penalties for violators both in and out of school.
Other speakers who pledged their support to this fledgling program included Beeville Mayor Jimbo Martinez, Sheriff Carlos Carrizales, Police Chief Joe Trevino and Bill Lazenby, courthouse bailiff and former police chief and TDCJ investigator.
Greg Baron, juvenile/gang officer for the BPD, noted that the program here is in its infancy stages, but he will do all he can to work with the schools and families to prevent violence and intimidation involving children.
One courageous young woman stood up and spoke first from the floor into an open microphone, admitting she had considered suicide after being harassed frequently at the high school several years ago. Fortunately, she had the strength to go on and finish school and, she noted, has since graduated from college.
Several speakers pointed out that much of the bullying locally occurs among young girls and that Facebook and the social media have provided a means for anonymous bullies to antagonize classmates.
Also, as Dr. Thomas pointed out, only three incidents of bullying were reported on the BISD’s anonymous hotline. Students are afraid to come forward for fear of retribution, and teachers and administrators most often are not aware of incidents on or near campus.
Obviously, everyone in attendance wants to see the problem addressed and hopefully prevented before a tragic incident occurs, such as the recent suicide of a 16-year-old Flour Bluff High School student in Corpus Christi.
Congratulations to Ochoa, Silvas, Baron and all others who organized this first session and best of luck in hosting future workshops. Beeville should be commended for taking a proactive step to stop bullying.