PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

August 2, 2013

Crowd packs anti-bullying rally

PORT ARTHUR — Cynthia Garnica knows all too well what it feels like to be bullied.

The 35-year-old Port Arthur resident remembers like it was yesterday her days in elementary school when classmates made fun of her, talked about her, and worst of all, physically assaulted her.

“It was an awful feeling. I have bad memories of it to this day,” she said. “I don’t want my kids to go through that.”

To help ensure that they don’t, Garnica and children attended Thursday’s first “Bullying Stops Here,” rally in Port Arthur.

Sponsored by the city’s health department, the rally addressed the problem of bullying — a form of youth violence seen all over the nation, and here in Port Arthur.

The size of the crowd confirmed to organizer Brenda Milo, an LVN with Port Arthur’s Health Department, what she already knew.

“It tells us bullying is a real problem, that it is out there, not only in the nation, but here in Port Arthur,” Milo said.

Guest speakers for the event were Port Arthur Police Officer Calvin Walker and Jayne Bordelon, with Mental Health America of Southeast Texas.

“I spent a lot of time in Port Arthur elementary schools this past year and discovered in the elementary schools we are seeing a lot more bullying which is insane,” Bordelon said. “I am just shocked  at  how mean children are.”

Bordelon theorized children likely have their some of their first experiences with bullying in the home, then bring it to school.

“It has to do with who you hang out with, but also how your parents act,” she said.

Walker cautioned the students to report bullying, whether they are a victim, or see others bullying someone.

It was not far-fetched that bullying in Port Arthur could lead to suicide, Walker said.

“It needs to stop. If you see somebody being bullied, reach out. If you see somebody getting bullied, don’t laugh with the bullies, report them,” Walker said.

Walker said he has been called to schools on numerous occasions, and tries to first talk to students involved.

“The real solution is reporting bullying,” he said.

Elda Harris, 59, of Port Arthur attended the rally as an employee of the Salvation Army, and recalled problems her granddaughter had with a gang of female bullies at Memorial High School.

Her granddaughter’s problems with the bullies started when she was a freshman, and continued through high school.

“They would harass her five days a week, Monday through Friday,” she said.

The girls would knock her granddaughter’s lunchroom tray out of her hands, follow her in the hall, posted negative things on Facebook and other social media, and even drove to her house.

“She was depressed enough that we worried she might commit suicide,” Harris said.

Though her granddaughter has graduated from high school, the experience left its mark.

“It was hard; it was a mess what she was going through,” Harris said.

E-Mail: skoonce@panews.com

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