Reporting Gigi Barnett
TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)—Earlier this year, Maryland’s first lady teamed up with the nation’s first lady to prevent bullying in schools. Judge Katie O’Malley continues the campaign to get more students involved.
Gigi Barnett has more.
Maryland’s first lady Katie O’Malley is known her stance against bullying. She’s created several online messages reaching out to students.
In March, she partnered with President Obama to take the message nationwide.
“Today bullying doesn’t even end at the school bell,” President Obama said. “It can follow our children from the hallways to their cell phones, to their computers.”
Now O’Malley wants to see what other students are doing. One example is a public service announcement created by students at George Washington Carver Center for the Arts and Technology in Towson.
The student commercial won a national award.
“So many kids just don’t speak up, so I just want to encourage kids to speak up against it and also not just kids who are being bullied but kids who witness it,” Judge O’Malley said.
Two years ago, more than 1,100 bullying cases were reported statewide. Last year that number spiked to a little more than 3,300, an increase of more than 2,100 cases
”I’m not so sure it’s necessarily a spike,” Judge O’Malley said. “It’s more incidents are being reported, so I’m hoping it’s encouraging that more kids are feeling like they can speak up.”
Students at Carver Center for the Arts say they can.
“Bullying doesn’t come from nowhere,” said Imani Spence, Carver student. “It’s not a habit you’re born with; it’s a learned skill.’”
Next week is Bullying Prevention and Awareness Week. Next school year, state leaders plan to hold a contest for the best anti-bullying service announcement done by students.
Maryland is the seventh state that has a law to protect students from bullying.