A campaign to prevent bullying kicks off Thursday with a series of public services announcements on local airwaves as well as the launch of an anti-bullying hotline and website operated by The Family Tree in coordination with Acadiana Open Channel. The campaign is also reaching out through social media with its own Facebook page.

Local ABC affiliate KATC begins a series of PSAs Thursday featuring the station’s on-air talent, and AOC will soon begin its own series of commercials featuring District 4 City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, his brother, Lafayette Consolidated Government Parks and Recreation Director Gerald Boudreaux, and newly elected District 4 school board rep Tehmi Chassion, each of whom says he was bullied as an adolescent.

The impetus for the campaign, according to Stephen Handwerk, AOC’s  board president, was the recent rash of widely publicized suicides by adolescents who were bullied. “I think now in the past 30 days, if the media report was correct, we’ve had 16 suicides, teenagers committing suicide, and all directly related to bullying,” Handwerk told The Independent recently. “We’ve got to do something locally here before our kids feel that there’s no other choice but to take their own lives.”

The website, BullyingStopsWithMe.com, launches at 4 p.m. Thursday. In addition to KATC, radio stations KPEL 96.5 FM and KVOL 1330 AM will also run public service announcements related to the campaign. The hotline can reached by calling (337) 322-4525.

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