"I love to act and I thought it'd be cool to be in a [PSA]," said actress Alyssa Jackson, 11, of Middletown. "My parents are really proud of me and it makes me feel good about myself because I'm taking a stand against bullying, even though I play a bully."
The PSA, barley under two minutes, features a boy being bullied on a school bus by several of his peers. Mean kids harass the poor child in various ways, including hitting him with crumpled paper and tripping him. Another student even records the humiliated boy with a smartphone as he's being ridiculed. The PSA ends with an onlooker standing up for the bullied kid, advising his tormentors to refrain from their attacks.
The PSA's message is one that PCA instructor Nick Manerchia feels needs to be told.
"It's a message that [shows] it's not just in the classroom, it's not just on the playground. It can happen on the bus," said Manerchia, 23, a graduate from Middletown High School who was bullied for having blubbery lips as a lad.
HOW IT STARTED
The idea to create the PSA was hatched by Francine Edwards, associate professor for DSU's mass communications department, whose students were interested in entering the 2013 Bateman Case Study Competition. The Bateman Case Study is the Public Relations Students Society of America's national case study competition for public relations students, and gives them an opportunity to apply their classroom education and internship experiences to create and implement a full public relations campaign.
This year's Case Study tasks students with increasing awareness about the short-term and long-term consequences of youth bullying, and inform audiences of the steps they can take to help prevent and report bullying. Winners of the competition will be announced during the PRSSA 2013 National Conference in Philadelphia, Pa., held Oct. 25-29.
Edwards, of Townsend, says she wanted to work with PCA because she was familiar with its theater productions and knew its performers would be perfect for the PSA.
"They did a great job," said Edwards, 43, who's also the reigning 2012 Mrs. Delaware United States. "I think it's another great way to work with the community, and definitely with people who are concerned and care about trying things to help improve the lives of kids."
WHAT THEY DISCOVERED
As part of their research on bullying, Edwards and her students performed case studies at the Corbit-Calloway Public Library in Odessa with parents and kids between the ages of 7 and 12.
"The census is that sometimes teachers ignore the bullying, because sometimes the bully gets on everybody's nerves," Edwards said. "The thought is, if we ignore them, maybe the bully will stop. Parents were saying there's that view where [being bullied is] a rite of passage, so a little bullying can make you a little tougher, a little stronger."
Some of the short-term and long-term consequences of bullying Edwards mentioned included victims developing anxiety, as well as kids committing suicide.