The Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood Division hosted an anti-bullying forum to raise awareness about bullying and how to prevent it.
While October is National Bullying Prevention Month, LAPD Sgt. Darrell Davis said the department tries to host similar events at least once a year. He said the forum is important for students in Hollywood.
“I’ve had a couple of kids who are part of the youth program tell us they’ve had issues with bullying at schools,” Davis said.
Monica Harmon, a public safety advocate and LAPD volunteer, led the more than 100 students gathered in an anti-bullying pledge.
“I pledge to help stop bullying,” they shouted in unison while raising their right hands. “I’m a strong student and leader. I will treat others with respect.”
Harmon travels to schools throughout Los Angeles to talk to kids about the damaging effects of bullying. She said schools should be a “safe place” for children and warns that parents must pay attention to their kids and their daily lives.
“Bullying is an epidemic in schools, and kids need to know they’re not alone,” Harmon said. “Parents need to talk to their kids because there are signs.”
One parent, Jose Luis, knows this from personal experience. He showed up to the event with three of his children. Luis said he is grateful for such a forum especially in light of the fact that his now 13-year-old son was once a victim of bullying.
“He almost dropped out of school,” Luis said. “The school administration did not help him.”
Grateful that his eighth-grade son is now faring better in school, Luis recalled how difficult the bullying experience was.
“It was frustrating to us,” he said. “It was affecting the family.”
High school senior and award-winning student artist Stephanie Varela presented her own artistic depiction of what bullying looks like. The art work entitled “Shattered Esteem” shows a young girl who is at her “breaking point” and considering suicide, Varela said.
“Although I’ve not been a victim of bullying, please reach out to those who are lonely,” Varela told the crowd. “You don’t know what they’ve been going through.”
Captain Beatrice Girmala of the Hollywood LAPD Division was also on hand to lend her support to the cause.