The annual rally against bullying in Oklahoma will take place at 9 a.m. Monday, May 20, in the House Chamber on the Fourth Floor of the Oklahoma State Capitol.
More Oklahomans need to take a stand against bullying in Oklahoma schools, according to state Rep. Anastasia A. Pittman and Kirk Smalley of "Stand for the Silent."
"We hope everyone will come out and support our efforts to stand against bullying for the kids in our world," said Smalley. "We have raised awareness not only state and nationwide but worldwide as well and we need each voice to join with us to help stop this in our world for its babies," said Smalley.
Pittman said the rally is meant to promote unity and collaboration among emerging young leaders that will attend from every public and private school in Oklahoma. At the rally, they will be exposed to testimonials from victims to gain a better perspective of the effects of bullying and from student organizations who have taken a stand to learn more about what they can accomplish back home.
Referencing Martin Luther King Jr., Matthews said he wants young leaders to understand the power they have to prevent suicide and violence in their communities.
"As young leaders in their peer groups, they must exercise leadership by standing up for those who do not stand up for themselves," Matthews, D-Tulsa. "We are our brothers and sisters' keepers. As Martin Luther King Jr. said ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'"
Floyd, the author of House Bill 1623, said she will talk about the need for suicide prevention.
"The second leading cause of death for school age children in Oklahoma is suicide," Floyd, D-OKC. "I am pleased that lawmakers are addressing this terrible problem with their support of House Bill 1623, which I believe we will see signed into law this year."
The legislation is not mandatory, but will give schools the option of using suicide prevention resources provided by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Pittman said she is disappointed that cyber-bullying language was stripped out of a separate bill, House Bill 1661.
"Schools are concerned that they will not be able to enforce cyber-bullying language, but I think the law will make it possible for law enforcement to get involved. The role of schools will be to document the cyber-bullying taking place among their students. They don't have to take a direct approach in situations which they are unable to address," said Pittman, D-Oklahoma City.
Pittman will present a PowerPoint presentation entitled "No Way Out" that will provide information to the young attendees on the resources available to young people who feel they have no way out when they are being bullied.
"We want student leaders to know that there is a way out and give them the resources that they need to prevent bullying and suicide risks in their schools," Pittman said.
Participants will pledge to commit themselves to anti-bullying efforts in Oklahoma. Early registration begins at 8 a.m. Guest speakers include Smalley, state Reps. Kay Floyd and Kevin Matthews, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi and others.