CONYERS — On Valentine’s Day, Osborne Dennis and other members of 321 Stop Bullying held a moment of silence and prayer at the Rockdale County Courthouse in memory of the 14 students and three teachers who lost their lives in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, 2018.

“I want to let our kids know they are not alone,” said Dennis. “Our country loses an average of 12 kids a day to suicide and me being a parent, I know that it has to start with me.”

Dennis founded 321 Stop Bullying in Rockdale County three years ago. The group has also held two annual Anti-Bullying Marches, earning them recognition on National Nonprofit Day in Rockdale County.

“The conversation has to start somewhere,” said Bernice Dennis, Osborne’s mother. “Parkland was preventable. Sandy Hook was preventable. Yes, other factors need to be looked into, but it is also our job as humans to take the first step and be more aware and proactive… reach out to the kids when no one else will.”

Vernon Sands, Rockdale County Schools coordinator for student safety was also in attendance. “Our kids’ safety is my number one priority,” said Sands, who has served as a Conyers Police officer as well. “We take bullying in our schools very seriously. Rockdale County Schools have several programs installed in the system and are currently looking at adding more.”

Sands also thanked the group for holding the moment of silence, and told them “to keep doing what you’re doing, because we can’t let these things die out.”

To learn more about 321 Stop Bullying, visit their Facebook page @321StopBullying.

Learn more about RCPS student safety and prevention initiatives at www.rockdaleschools.org/academics_and_support/student_support.

Covington native and proud Valdosta State alumna, Hunter has previously worked with The Covington News and Valdosta Daily Times. She started working for Rockdale/Newton Citizen in June 2018.

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