ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Bullying can invade schools and cause real problems for children who become victims. Ascension Parish has announced a campaign to help students break the silence.
Parents and students lined up early at Galvez Middle School on Friday to finalize their registrations and pick up a few supplies. Lucy Cason's two children attend Ascension Parish schools.
"I have one rising freshman at St. Amant High and one rising sixth grader at Galvez," Cason said.
She said, like most kids their ages, they have cell phones and smart devices. The technology has allowed users to have information at their fingertips instantly. It also comes in handy for parents too.
"I know where they are and they communicate back and forth with me on them," Cason said.
Soon students will be able to use their smart devices to communicate with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office. The school system's Students and Safety First Committee has rolled out a new element in its campaign to report bullying. It is called Step Up and Stop It. Students simply text the number 847411 to anonymously report the behavior to the sheriff's office.
Ascension Public Schools spokeswoman Jackie Tisdell said students will soon start seeing the ads everywhere.
"We are printing them on our parking tags for high school students. We are doing posters, key chains kids can put on backpacks, stickers. The
goal is that every student has this number programmed in their phone," Tisdell said.
The news is music to Christi Hart's ears. She has four children in the school system.
"[One of my children] has experienced bullying throughout elementary school. So, it was hard for him to open up and tell people. Being able to text and tell people what's going on anonymously, without feeling that people are going to judge him, I think that's a great tool," Hart said.
Hart said her children do not have smart phones, but that might change soon.
"I have been resisting but this may be a good reason," Hart said.
Students do not have to have a cell phone to report bullying to the sheriff's office. The school system also plans to use the ad as a screen saver on its 27,000 school-issued electronic tablets. They can also use it to report bullying.
An advertisement for the anonymous tip line has already been printed in the fall football programs. As soon as the other materials are ready, they will be distributed to students.