NORMAN — A nationally recognized motivational speaker says Norman is one of the few communities in the country that takes a proactive approach to bullying.
“You're not looking at the back end (of the problem); you're saying we're going to look at the front end. Your whole community is saying this matters,” said Wes Moore, youth advocate and best-selling author of the book “The Other Wes Moore.”
Moore spoke at a public forum Tuesday that launched an anti-bullying awareness campaign. Participants left the forum wearing wristbands that read “AboveBullying” and turned in pledge cards endorsing a zero tolerance stand on bullying.
“If we are going to be the society we want to be, then we will have to be proactive. We all have to be in, and all involved, particularly on the issue of bullying,” Moore said.
No one should feel like they're on the fringe, “that they don't matter,” he said. “If one person doesn't feel their voice matters, then that's one too many.”
Moore's appearance was sponsored by a coalition of people, including ministers, police officers, public officials, health officials and the Xenia Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes social justice through dialogue. The group has been meeting for about a year to discuss the problem of bullying and how to combat it before, rather than after, tragedy occurs.
A societal issue
Police Chief Keith Humphrey said he thinks Norman is the first city in the nation to be so proactive in combating bullying.
“Anyone can be a bully, but it takes a special person to stand up and say, ‘not on my watch,'” Humphrey said.
Bullying is not just a school issue, but a societal issue, the police chief said.
It occurs in the workplace, on the athletic field and in homes as well as in schools, he said.
“We, in Norman, want to make a difference. When we say we are all-inclusive, we want to really mean we are all-inclusive. We want everyone to feel safe and free from intimidation and bullying,” Humphrey said.