By Josh Shepherd, News writer
“Every person in every school can make a difference” was the key message that Mr. Mojo, a nationally celebrated anti-bullying spokesperson, brought to Harrison County school students Monday.
Mr. Mojo, also known as Travis Brown, is the high energy spokesperson behind a national campaign to address school bullying. His “No Bullying” tour has received backing from the MTV cable channel and several major media outlets nationwide.
The program is in high demand at public schools across the country and booking a presentation at Harrison County was no easy chore.
In fact, credit for arranging Mr. Mojo’s appearance at the high school goes to parent sponsor and leader of the Harrison County Anti-Bully club, Kelli Burrier.
Burrier has four children in the Harrison County school system. She and her club members have been working to bring Mr. Mojo’s message to the school system for several months at least, Jenny Lynn Hatter, school director of instruction, said.
The cost for Mr. Mojo’s all day appearance at Harrison County was covered by the Office Depot Foundation and by a grant from the One Direction Foundation, a special foundation sponsored by the pop music group.
The effort paid off well. During President’s Day, a day that students would normally have off, every elementary, middle and high school student was treated to Mr. Mojo’s combination of high energy and personal testimony.
The presentation kicked off with a variation of the game, Simon Says, which puts the students into high spirits before Brown began his message.
He cautioned students about being aware of how words they use can hurt. A student who doesn’t fit in with a person’s definition of “normal” can become the object of ridicule.
He cited one instance where a girl named Jessica was a new student at a school. Unlike most students, he said that Jessica had unusually short hair and for that reason became the subject of student’s laughter and teasing.
“The students didn’t realize that this girl was a cancer survivor. That she had gone through therapy that had caused her hair to fall out,” Brown told students.
He explained that students frequently misunderstand how it feels to be singled out from the group and made the object of insults and gossip. Bullying, he said, pushes people to their edge and for some, that edge can be dangerous.
“We don’t know where a person’s ‘edge’ is - that place where they will no longer be pushed. For some people, that edge can be dangerous,” Mr. Mojo said.
For other people, they deal with their pain by deciding to deliver pain of their own on other people. Others try to numb the pain through the use of drugs and alcohol, he said.
“Others commit suicide. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation. You have to know that, no matter what, things will get better,” he said. “My parents divorced when I was two. My mom and I had nothing, barely even a place to live. I didn’t know if things would ever get better, but they did.”
Brown urged students to resist the temptation to join with bullies - those people who always talk negative about everything. A bully, he said, is a person who sets out to intentionally hurt, harm, or humiliate people.
But worse, by far, than the bully, he said, are the bystanders who do nothing and let the abuse happen.
Mojo cited an instance where a woman was beaten to death outside of a nightclub. There were several people who made videos of the beating and posted them on the internet. These were later used as evidence.
“Not one person holding a cell phone got involved. Nobody used their phone to call authorities. The people there were willing to record it, but not a single person reached out to stop it,” he said.
He urged students not to join in with the “haters,” but also not be among the bystanders who stand and watch.
He called on students to “MojoUp” and be accepting of people’s differences.
“My presentation here is just a band-aid,” he concluded, “You all have to be a part of the cure that happens afterward.”
For more information about the Mojo no bullying tour and information on the set of tools to reduce incidences of bullying at school, visit the website at nobullyingtour.com.