Nationwide, bullying prevention efforts are well established but with the growing prevalence of social media, bullying remains a glaring concern. Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman and his wife, Nikki, have joined the national campaign against bullying as they kicked off their Anti-Bullying National Tour on February 7, 2020, at Pikesville Middle School.
For nearly two years, the couple has made a concerted effort to educate youth on the harmful effects of bullying. The Bozemans founded an organization to further their anti-bullying efforts— the Bradley and Nikki Bozeman Foundation, which seeks to impact the lives of at-risk children and families with a focus on the dangers of childhood bullying and the importance of treating everyone respectfully, standing up for others and being true to oneself.
Their cross-country tour will consist of stops to schools in 17 states spanning from the Mid-Atlantic, to the Deep South, to the West Coast in their R.V. to fulfill the goal of raising awareness about the dangers of bullying and cyberbullying. The excursion is set to run through March 25, 2020.
“It was great. I was so excited when we walked out here,” Bradley said after the kickoff event. “The kids, I think, responded pretty well.”
Bradley and Nikki’s personal experiences have given them a platform to help adults and children learn how to recognize bullying, respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior, and send a strong message that such behavior is unacceptable.
They were prompted to reinforce the anti-bullying message to students in April 2018 when they were asked to send an inspirational video to a girl of Chinese descent who was being bullied, according to Bradley, a Roanoke, Alabama, native and former standout for the University of Alabama football team.
Instead of sending the video, they went to the girl’s school and spoke to the student body about the harmful effects of bullying. Interacting with students and hearing their stories has been a humbling and eye-opening experience, Bradley added.
Throughout the rally, Pikesville Middle School students had the privilege of getting to learn true stories of bullying from the Bozemans and had the chance to share some of their stories with classmates, faculty and the Bozemans.
“They (children) shared their stories, and they were very brave, and told all about what was going on,” Nikki said.
The children asked a variety of questions, ranging from Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to whether the Bozemans had ever counseled people who attempted suicide, according to Nikki.
“It means a lot to our kids, to our staff and our community because middle school is a very difficult time for students naturally,” said Kalisha Miller, principal of Pikesville Middle School, who readily welcomed the Bozemans to kickoff their campaign at the school. “To have someone like Mr. Bozeman and his wife come and really share with the kids and be vulnerable, and talk about what they went through as middle school kids, and how they got through it and some of the things that [students] could do to get through whatever they’re going through.
“What I also hope is that they (students) took away is knowing their resources and knowing who they can reach out to, and they’re not alone,” Miller said. “If something is happening, they have plenty of staff members to open up to so that we can support them.”
Recently, former Maryland Senator Bobby Zirkin collaborated with the Bozemans in their advocacy against bullying of any kind. In 2019, Zirkin crafted “Grace’s Law 2.0,” a piece of legislation targeting cyberbullying. The law was named for Maryland teen Grace McComas, who committed suicide after suffering from constant online bullying.
The next stop for the Bozemans will be at a school in Kennesaw, Georgia, which is Nikki’s hometown.
Bradley and Nikki Bozeman pride themselves in using their platform to combat a growing epidemic among America’s youth. To conclude the kickoff, the couple took pictures with Pikesville Middle students, faculty and staff.