Local groups forming, organizing to tackle school bullying

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, March 1, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- A handful of students and parents gathered in a room at Cross Creek High School last August. That's how it all began for a local anti-bullying group that's now making a difference.

"S.O.S. had been doing awesome!" exclaimed Annetta Mills, the group's founder.

Mills founded the group S.O.S., or Save Our Students, after her nephew was shot and killed in the Belair Conference Center shooting last year.

"We have been going around to schools and churches. We're doing Occupy S.O.S. weeks at all of the schools in Richmond County. We have started an outreach program," she said.

Mills says it's a grassroots effort that's really grown deep roots.

"It comes straight up out of my pocket and my team's pocket," Mills said.

Now, after a News 12 special assignment about an alleged bullying problem at an Aiken County Middle School, S.O.S. is looking to diversify.

"We have come to a summit with everyone in Aiken, trying to put together and stop the violence and bullying over here in Aiken County," she told News 12.

Her group plans to meet with the Aiken County School Board soon to get the ball rolling.

Back in Georgia, there were two more events to stomp out bullying Thursday.

"Bullying can have such a strong impact," said Marti Loring, a bullying expert from Atlanta and Executive Director of the Center for Mental Health and Human Development also in Atlanta.

She was the keynote speaker during a conference on bullying in Augusta.

"The three S's of bullying are you have to see it, you have to say it and then stop it," she said.

In Columbia County at Evans Middle School on Thursday, Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan told students how they can help prevent bullying, too.

"The goal is what we do at all middle schools and elementary schools. We try to talk to the kids, so they don't come to court," he said.

Flanagan says social media is what makes bullying so much more prevalent today. He says it's more immediate and reaches more people.

Over at the event in Augusta, social workers and others actually signed up to create a task force to address the issue.

Finally, S.O.S. actually has a big announcement on the horizon. They're planning a big rally in Aiken County for concerned parents and students. We'll post the day and time of that event when we know more.

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