Josh Hale, a 15-year-old veteran of the Richmond Police Department, has taken his message into countless schools across the country. Over the years, he has talked with more than 40,000 students about important issues that they face each and every day, like self-image, bullying, substance abuse and school violence.
Hale brought his program "True Lies" to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at Wayne County Middle School on Wednesday, February 28. Hale told students that his message was not a new one, but he promised to tell it "exactly how it is. I am not just talking to you as a police officer, but also as a father."
He talked about his experiences with his own daughters, and the things that students face each day. '"True Lies" is based on a book written by Phil Chambers.
Hale began his message by urging the middle school students to value themselves. He also talked about the importance of not starting habits like smoking and drinking, which are gateway drugs that can lead to abuse in later years.
Hale emphasized the harsh effects that drugs have on people by showing the students a series of photos which showed addicts from the time of their first arrest until the time of their early deaths. The progression of age was astounding and caught the attention of many students who were at the program.
He discussed methamphetamine and the toxic chemicals that are used to create the drug that basically eats away at the addict who uses it.
Hale also discussed the issue of bullying as well as cyberbullying, which has become associated with many of the school shootings that have occurred across the country. Hale stated that 90 percent of school shooters were bullied.
"Violence is not a way to solve your problems," said Hale, who noted that bullying is a form of violence.
He counseled any students who are being bullied to tell someone. He urged that there be "zero tolerance" for bullying, noting that the solution starts with the students themselves.
At the conclusion of the program, students had the opportunity to talk with staff members as well as Hale regarding issues in which they were concerned.
Hale is a National Speaker on Youth Violence and Trends. In 2014, he assisted in the work to get the anti-bullying law pass in Kentucky. On April 28, 2014, Governor Steve Beshear signed Senate Bill 20 into law and the anti-bullying law went into effect on July 15, 2014.
Later in the afternoon, Hale shared information with parents and the community, after the two school assemblies were held.
“Josh does such a good job” with his training, noted Wayne County Middle School Counselor Lori Anderson. “We were so happy to get him.”
The school counselors were especially excited to have the national speaker at the middle school because he is so engaging with students and able to bring about prevention awareness regarding bullying and drugs.
The school counselors periodically visit classrooms to provide awareness prevention information to students on these issues, however, scheduling is difficult because there is so much curriculum being driven through instruction each day, in order to meet the mandated standards. Therefore, the bulk of the counselors work is addressing individual student issues as they are brought to their attention. In addition, the counselors work on special events like Reality Town and Operation Preparation to help direct students along positive academic paths.
Hopefully, through all these local efforts the school environment is gradually improving. According to an article in U.S. News, federal data just released reported bullying incidents have dropped by more than a third since 2007. Moreover, the percentage of bullied students who reported being bullied most frequently – as in almost eveyday – also decreased, while the percentage reporting that they had told a teacher or other adult about being bullied increased.
The report drops come as schools across the country have increased their focus on bullying prevention and focused more intentionally on what’s known as social and emotional learning in an effort to improve school climate.
Students are fortunate to have the team of educators and counselors at Wayne County Middle School who devote so much energy and time towards improving students’ lives.
School Resource Officer Jerry Meadows and Josh Hale
Trevor Hammond participated in the program
Hale inspired and moves the students with his impactful program
Hale's program, using student participation and harsh facts, would be one the students wouldn't forget