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Mayor Alonzo Jones is asking the community to come together to end bullying in the city and to ensure that Danville is a place of belonging, acceptance, and respect for all people.
Jones first talked publicly about the initiative at City Council’s meeting last week.
“I am going to share something that has really been bothering me as the mayor,” Jones said at the meeting. “For the last couple of months, I have never received more phone calls on anything else since I have been mayor for one year than I have in regards to bullying.”
Jones said the calls are not just about what is happening with youths, but the entire community.
“We want to be the first city to figure out ways to put a stop to bullying,” Jones said. “Some people say you are never going to do it, but we want to put some things in place.”
City Manager Ken Larking said the Police Department works in collaboration with Danville Public Schools to identify and investigate issues such as bullying, stalking and communicating threats.
In addition to school resource officers provided by the Police Department, the school system earlier this year made an app called STOPit available for middle school and high school students and their parents. The app allows users to report issues anonymously.
“We stay in constant communication with the school system and take these issues seriously,” Larking said. “Response is fluid and immediate.”
For the whole community, Larking stressed the need for citizens to say something when they see something suspicious.
“One of the things I have seen in most communities when they have tragedies is everybody says ‘I cannot believe it happened here,’” Larking said. “That is why it is so important for people to say something. It doesn’t hurt to say something. When you see it, report it to our police department, and we can take the appropriate steps.”
Larking said the staff is researching platforms that would enable the public to share information anonymously with the police department’s Crime Stoppers program.
Also, staff will develop activities to raise awareness about how to identify, respond to, and prevent bullying in conjunction with National Bullying Prevention Month held every October. One avenue being explored is a campaign that incorporates the “Not In Our Town” project, which uses documentary film, new media, and organizing to stop hate, address bullying, and build safe, inclusive communities.