A united front against bullying
Shemar Johnson leads an anti-bullying march in Scotland Neck Saturday morning, as others behind him chant, sing and carry signs.
From The Daily Herald.
SCOTLAND NECK — After one of their own nearly killed himself due to being bullied, dozens of Scotland Neck residents marched together Saturday morning in an effort to stop bullying in the community.
North East Carolina Prep School student Shemar Johnson, 15, said he was bullied while he was still at Enfield Middle School because of the way others perceived him.
“They bully me because the way I talk, the way I act, what they thought my sexuality was,” Shemar said.
Then in September, he attempted to overdose on medication but told his parents at the last moment, who took him speedily to a hospital, Shemar said.
After his experience and seeing so many community members supporting him, he said he now feels a weight has lifted off his chest. He added he felt he made a difference by letting others know about his bullying.
“It makes me excited that I actually did something about it,” Shemar said.
During the march, attendees chanted and sang against bullying. Business owners came out to see the children and took one of the flyers which encouraged people to make Scotland Neck a bully-free community.
Brenda Mills, senior branch manager of the Scotland Neck Memorial Library and one of the people who started the anti-bullying campaign for Johnson, said she has seen a large amount of support from the people of Scotland Neck.
Mills said she has received more than $500 for the program, which allowed the Library to create orange T-shirts with “Keep Calm and Stop Bullying” and numerous posters the marchers held on Saturday.
“Scotland Neck has to be one of the smallest communities with the biggest hearts,” Mills said.
Mills also said some of the community members will present a bully-free agenda at the next Scotland Neck Town Council meeting. She said the agenda will create anti-bullying signs around the Town and at businesses to show those who are being bullied the entire community is standing behind them.
Another Scotland Neck resident who helped bring the anti-bully march to fruition was Tiffany Deckard. Deckard noted how large the anti-bully support grew.
“It actually grew up larger than we thought it would be,” Deckard said.
Mills and Deckard said the Scotland Neck Police Department was supportive and worked with the Roanoke Rapids Police Department to bring a guest appearance of Safety Pup, who also marched and chanted.
Deckard added the community of Scotland Neck always is supportive when it comes to children.
One of the youths who marched was 13-year-old Scotland Neck resident Michael Parker.
Michael said he is a friend of Shemar, and he said those who know their friends are being bullied, should help by telling someone.
“They should help them,” Michael said. “They should support them.”
To the bullies, Michael said, “keep calm and stop bullying.”
Shemar’s mother, Tarjala Whitaker, said parents should be involved in their children’s lives and be supportive to see if they are being bullied or not.
“Just ask questions,” Whitaker said. “Ask as many questions as possible … stay involved in their lives, show encouragement, show support.”
Whitaker said she was excited about the turn out for the march, and was appreciative. She added she couldn’t ask for more.
“Stay involved in their lives,” Whitaker said. “Show encouragement. Show support. Just encourage them all the time. You have to better them.”