PLATFORM TO COMBAT BULLYING.
“An Extraordinary Man Doing Extraordinary Things” by: Riccardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor LeRoy Washington, Guess Writer
BULLYING HAS GAINED NATIONAL ATTENTION in the past several years. October has been named the National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month (NABAM) by Pacers National Bullying Prevention Center. Last year 20.1 percent of students nationwide experienced bullying on school porperty, accordng to a Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance report by the DHHS and Centers for Disease and Prevention. During that same period, 16.2 percent of students were electronically bullied through emails, chat rooms, instant messages, websites, and texting. AMID THE COVID-19 CRISIS, the Honorable Jewell Jones (D-Inkster) is working equally hard from home, as he does in the office. He loves to lead. A skill he learned and cultivated at an early age, but didn’t realize just how much he loved to build teams and motivate people until elected to Inkster’s city council as the youngest member in
Becoming the voice of the people, representing newly innovative ideas and his relentless drive, catapulted his careerto the next level. Jones won a seat at the table of Legislatures, as a Michigan State House Representative. Since then he has had an extensive and successful career in politics. Now seeking his third consecutive and final term, he plans to add to his legacy by changing the bullying narrative, not just in his district, but in all Michigan Schools. It’s 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning and I reach out to Jewell. He’s in traffic, on his way to praise the Lord. Handling his business via two cell-phones, he accepts my call, I hear him say, “Hey, I gotta take this call. Let me put some thought to it and I’ll get back with you… ~ Peace.” He turn his attention towards me, we chop it up with a few subtleties then get right down to it. I pull out my pen and pad of questions and fire away.
Q – VOD – LEROY: Why Politics?
A – JJ: I wanted to make a difference in my community. The age gap was creating a distinct difference in forward-thinking and this was preventing new ideas and younger voices from being heard. First, I just wanted to bridge that gap. Then I realized I can really make a difference. Bringing about change has become my primary mission in life.
Q – VOD – RICCARDO: Speaking of change. Bullying transcends: race, culture, gender, status, geography, age, religion -we see it everywhere. What made you take on this issue as part of your mission for this term?
A – JJ: In recent years we’ve seen an influx of bullying activities and the level of bullying related suicides amplifies the problem. Speaking with parents of victims, educators, and my colleagues we decided that acts of bullying must be taken more seriously to help prevent suicides and violence. Create meaningful policies that would force school’s to be held more accountable, not only report incidents but also become proactive by implementing programming and support preventative measures. If we’re going to change the bullying narrative we have to reshape thinking, attitudes and behaviors.
Q – VOD RICCARDO: This issue is something that’s so much more compelling than a lot of issues we’ve seen over the years. How big is the problem?
JJ: To put it in perspective and to contextualize the issue: No child should have to face bullying in our learning institutions. One death, as a result of bullying, is to many. For us to stand by and do nothing is a social injustice in and of itself. As legislatures we have a grave responsibility to our constituents, communities, and especially to our young people.
Q – VOD LEROY: How do you plan to bring about awareness?
JJ: As a legislature I have a powerful tool at hand. I can and will continue to use my platform to spearhead change, speakout and inform. The more people
learn about why it happens and how it can be prevented, the better! The more
the public is aware of, the more support goes into legislation to create preventative measures. I aim to make sure these issues will no longer be ignored, dismissed or pushed to the margins of our political and social agendas.
Q – VOD – RICCARDO: Amid the Covid-19 crisis what’s the plan now?
JJ: Well, that’s a good question. Pre-Covid-19, my team and I, partnered with ABC (Anti-Bully Crusaders organization) (www.antibullycrusaders.org) to host the largest Anti-bullying conference in the country for NABAM
National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month) of October, right here in Detroit. Unfortunately, our plans were thwarted by
the pandemic. Covid-19 may have hindered our work, but we are not on a vacation! When things are some what back to normal we’llbe faced with the same problems we had prior. To some degree things will be even worse. So this year we’ll be hosting a virtual “Bully Free Safe Zone” Summit and Free Concert on FaceBook Live Oct. 24,beginning at 3:00 pm. I’m officially inviting everyone to tune-in. We have a great line up for the panel and
entertainment, such as our very own home town favorites Big Sean, Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, Lonnie Love (TheReal), and so many more.
After this event we hope to attract more strategic partners such as legislatures from both sides of the isle, civic leaders, parents, schools, student bodies, local businesses, corporate sponsors, and religious organizations; in an effort to place ABC’s curriculum in all our learning institutions across the nation beginning with the DetroitMetropolitan and surrounding areas.
Q – VOD – LEROY: You could have picked any anti-bullying organization to partner with. Why ABC?
JJ: The ABC approach speaks volumes about their understanding in what our children need. They’re ahead of the
curve and a clear leader in reaching our youth. It’s the best in-class program in every way. ABC’s interactive
curriculum tends to be especially skilled at motivating young men and women, building leaders, teaching social skills,
addressing social and individual distractions, developing and cultivating self-esteem, and so much more. It’s an honor
and I’m proud to be teaming up with ABC and all its affiliates. It’s time to get it done.
Q – VOD – RICCARDO: Digressing… What’s important to Jewell Jones and what’s the plan for the immediate future?
JJ: The most important thing in life to me (after God and Family), is how my life’s works affect those around me.
That’s the true measure of ones worth! My immediate future is to bring change for better to the people. We have
some ideas and detailed plans of implementation. So stay tuned-in.
As far as bullying goes, I can and will continue to use my platform to speak out, help change and create laws, but the
real challenge is getting everyone involved. Together we can change the narrative because Bullying is not something
that has no cure, it can be fixed!
Q – VOD – RICCARDO: Give us one final thought.
JJ: Everyday we must work a little bit harder to become a little bit better. The one thing we all should have learned
from this crisis is that we must MOBILIZE, UNIFY, AND UTILIZE ALL OUR RESOURCES.
In the meantime and in between time, we have to take this virus seriously, and wait it out to survive. #HOLLA
VOD – LEROY: Well said. We salute you young Prince for your selflessness and for continuing to spread light during
these tumultuous times. It’s extraordinary men of your character and caliber, doing extraordinary things, that can
change the world.
On behalf of the VOICE OF DETROT Family, We thank you and look forward to working with you in the near future,
changing and saving young lives! As Always Peace and Love #HOLLA