Step Up, Step In (SUSI) is a social marketing campaign developed through a partnership between the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Georgia Network to End Sexual Violence (GNESA). These organizations provided funding to create awareness on the topic of bullying and its impact on youth in Georgia. The program requires partnering with middle or high schools to reduce the incidents of bullying (unwanted touching, spreading rumors, name calling, sending inappropriate texts or pictures) by promoting awareness and empowering students and staff to hold each other accountable for observed bullying behavior.

Eight health districts in Georgia received funding to implement the bullying awareness campaign in their school districts. District 4 Public Health was one of the health districts to receive the award to be implemented in the three middle schools in Troup County. This was not prompted by any incident, but is an important issue that affects middle schools and high schools across the country.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so most of the campaign activities/events are taking place during that month. SUSI Advisory Teams have been established at each school to help coordinate the activities. Troup County middle schools are promoting the campaign by designating a home football game as their SUSI Awareness game. T-shirts and sunglasses with the SUSI logo are being distributed to students attending the game and football players are wearing lime green socks – the SUSI campaign color. Fact cards with information and statistics about SUSI are being distributed to parents and also placed in the front office of each school.

During Red Ribbon Week, October 23-31, middle school students will also bring awareness to the SUSI campaign by dressing appropriately to highlight the anti-bullying message. Classroom door decorating contests about SUSI will take place at each middle school and one homeroom from each grade will be chosen as the winner and receive a pizza party. Morning announcements are being made by members of the SUSI Advisory Team to inform students about the harmful effects of bullying and how to be an active bystander by “Stepping Up” to bullies and “Stepping In” to help.

Getting students involved in the campaign will help make students aware of the problem and empower them to take all forms of bullying seriously; when they see it, report it to a trusted adult. The good news is that most kids aren’t behaving this way. They do, however, witness these behaviors and either feel powerless to stop it or turn a blind eye. At the end of the campaign, students will be asked to sign a pledge to help stop bullying in their school, in their community and in Georgia.

Beth Daniel- Health Promotion Coordinator

For pictures of the event so far, visit our Facebook page at District 4 Public Health.