By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
Instead of staying at home to relax or spend time with her girlfriends cruising the malls, Chelsea Stalling used her Dr. Martin L. King Jr. holiday as a day of service. Stalling, who is the senior manager/external affairs for the Chicago Urban League of Chicago, participated in the MLK Youth Summit held at the Genesis Center.
Stalling was one of several presenters at a workshop on cyber bullying for young people to warn them about the dangers that can be found on social media. More specifically, they learned the signs and characters of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes places using electronic technology. The various types of devices and equipment includes cell phones, computers and tablets, as well as communication tools such as social media sites, text messages, chats and websites.
McKenya Dilworth, Superintendent of Parks and Recreations for the City of Gary, said there were close to 100 students raging in ages from 5 to 18 that attended the summit.
One of the service projects the group decided to do was because of Dr. King and something he said, “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve.” The group had to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in addition to providing a first aid kit that will be distributed to Brother’s Keeper and Emma’s House.
The kits that the young people made included bandages, alcohol swabs and a quote from Dr. King. They were told the purpose for including the quote was to be an inspiration to anyone reading it and that you never know when someone needs a little inspiration. Dilworth said, “It was truly a community project.”
Mia Tobar, a 14-year-old student from Thea Bowman Leadership Academy was one of the students who attended the Youth Summit. She said the best part about the Summit was the dance company–Dance Excel, which represented Black culture and the arts. She said, “I also liked how we came together to make the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the kits that we distributed to the homeless.”
Stalling talked to the group about their personal experiences with online bullies and to let adults know if they are being bullied.
Cyberbullying occurs nearly 43 percent of the time while kids are online. One in four has had it happen more than once and at least 70 percent of the students who attended the summit said they frequently see bullying online. Over 80 percent of teens use cell phones regularly making it the most common medium for cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying usually occurs as a form of payback or blackmail. Most of the young people believe it is an easier way to get away with bullying, especially when a person is not brave enough to do it in person.
Tobar said she has not experienced bullying at her school because they are strict and they don’t tolerate it, but it was worth going to the Summit. She said, “It was worth attending because they gave out water bottles, labeled bags, but most importantly, the one thing they gave out was a lot of memories and some very important literature about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”