A lip-dubbing contest, candy grams and internet memes. At first glance these may not sound like parts of an anti-bullying campaign, but thanks to the public relations students at West Texas A&M University, these are just of few of the methods used to inform Amarillo students about the issue of bullying.
According to an AISD Student Code of Conduct handbook, “Bullying occurs when a student or group of students engages in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic methods, or physical conduct against another student on school property, at a school-sponsored or related activity, or in a district operated vehicle, and the behavior: results in harm to the student or the student’s property, places a student in reasonable fear of physical harm or of damage to the student’s property, or is so severe, persistent, and pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment.”
It might seem like a complicated definition for a common problem, but it highlights one of the key issues with bullying: understanding it in the first place. If it takes an entire paragraph to explain the concept, how can students be expected to address it themselves?
This was one of many issues Megg Dunlap, one of the creators of the Stand Up to Beat Downs campaign faced. “…If we can educate youth on the harmful effects [of bullying], both short and long term, we will have an impact,” Megg asserts. Based on research, statistics, and the needs of AISD, Megg and her team of advertising and public relations colleagues spent a semester designing a campaign that could improve the lives of thousands of Amarillo students.
“We were developing a campaign that would have a direct impact on our local community, and there were definitely added pressures that accompanied that.” Megg continues. “The experience was surreal. The first time we saw our PSAs running, and saw the content that the students themselves were creating, we knew this was something big. College students don't get the opportunity to have a true impact on their communities, and we were being trusted by educators and professionals to do just that.”
The campaign itself was made to be personalized for different schools. Kelly Hudspeth, a teacher at Amarillo High School explains, “Every school was different. They gave us the information, and they let us do what we wanted with it.”
The Stand Up to Beat Downs Facebook page highlights much of the content that has been produced. Lip-dubbing, anti-bullying videos made by students and other content illustrate the diverse methods the campaign has used to put a stop to bullying. But ultimately, the goal of the campaign is universal. “We raise awareness,” Kelly says.
If increased awareness leads students to recognize and stop bullying, than this campaign is an excellent first step.
“We developed a fun campaign that gets people talking,” Kelly says. “The more conversations we can get started about it, the more successful we will ultimately be.”
by Alex Mann
Alex is a senior at West Texas A&M University currently completing his final semester for a degree in Mass Communications. When not working, he enjoys developing his photography skills, reading a good book and being with family and friends.