Mayor Del Jurney presents an anti-bullying proclamation to Ann Anderson, clinical director of Counseling Associates. Pictured from left to right: Pat Lujan, Juan Oropesa, C.W. Hamilton, Ann Anderson, Del Jurney and R.G. “Bobby” Villegas. (Courtesy Photo)
R.G. “Bobby” Villegas, the Roswell Independent School District, Counseling Associates and the Hispano Chamber of Commerce kicked off their Anti-bullying Campaign last week. Mayor Del Jurney issued a proclamation naming Nov. 1 Stand Up For Character: Down With Bullying Day.
The program, which includes a hotline victims can call, is now in place throughout RISD and in Dexter. The planning has taken nearly a year as the various agencies ironed out issues of legalities and liabilities.
Villegas elaborated on his inspiration for the stop-bullying program. “When we did the Neighborhood Watch meetings, I started thinking about children. If they cannot go to the police or the teachers, they’ve got no where to run. This gives them an avenue where they can go.”
Numerous agencies have become involved in order to bring the program to fruition.
The Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce has taken on the task of promoting the program throughout the community. They have set up a speakers bureau to increase public awareness. “We‘ve already done four talks to such groups as the Optimist Club and Roswell Realtors Association,” said Juan Oropesa.
R.G. Villegas Insurance Agency has set up a dedicated phone line for students to call and produced T-shirts from artwork provided by students. “The T-shirts have gone to the principals who will give them out to the students,” said Villegas.
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell printed the posters which have been distributed to schools and to local businesses
Counseling Associates has been enlisted to answer the calls on the bullying hotline. They will provide referrals if necessary.
“The phone line isn’t just for students,” Villegas explained.
“It’s there for the parents and the grandparents if they want to report incidents.”
The calls are completely anonymous. The caller does not need to provide a name unless someone wants to make a report. The phone line is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Ann Anderson clinical director for Counseling Associates, said, “The calls are forwarded to a cell Monday through Friday and monitored through our crisis hotline on Saturday and Sunday.”
The counselor, Angelica Flynn-Del Rio, who takes the calls is bilingual. “It’s important that she is bilingual. We have a number of young people here whose first language is Spanish,” said Anderson.
Mayor Del Jurney and his wife Christie are among the sponsors.
“I was encouraged by a group that wanted to do something about the situation…. Bullying can have a devastating effect on anybody. Young kids will quit school; some will commit suicide.
The program has the full backing of the school district. “This is a legal program approved by the schools,” said Villegas.
Director of instruction at RISD Pat Lujan has a zero tolerance for bullying. “I told my kids I will not tolerate it, period.”
He felt that education of the public was an essential part of the program. “In 37 years teaching, I’ve always said if you have a problem in a community you have to start with teaching the parents.”