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Submit a video, story, poem, artwork, or audio clip expressing how you feel about bullying, how you think it affects students and schools, what you have done to prevent bullying, or what others can do to prevent bullying.

Bullying411@PACER.org

Safe Schools

Posted: 12/18/2014

What does it mean to have a safe school?
Does it mean that things have to be cool?
Find the answer we must,
Or our student’s lives might be lost.
Whether physical, social or emotional threats,
Our students deserve protection from the best.
As their teacher, I pledge to you all,
I pledge to help them stand tall!
One way to help prevent such disarray,
Is to create an environment that sends no one away.
Teachers that have an open door,
Invite students and gives them an arena to explore.
As a teacher it is my obligation,
To report all misbehavior that occurs in my station!
But I promise to go one step higher,
To help our students drown the smoke before it becomes a fire.
Keeping students safe is a huge priority,
And I promise to do everything within my authority.
As parents you must help by being our eyes and ears,
To help eliminate any potential fears!
These fears can come in any way shape or form,
All are unacceptable and require students to transform!
Students have increased pressure to embody all things,
And as role models we must help teach them to live without these strings!

One major issue that we must all explore,
Is the role of bullying needs to be no more!
The many faces of bullying plague our halls,
And as teachers and parents we must take a stand before a student falls!
The supposed sense a power that bullies get,
Surpasses are rules that are supposed to be set!
Bullying can happen to any student in school,
And causes hurt, shame, embarrassment and feelings that are so cruel!
Making a victim out of students to make yourself feel good,
Is evidence that something is wrong and misunderstood.
Bullying can happen in so many different ways,
Physical contact, one word, one gesture, one sentence, I could really go on for days!
83% of bullying occurs with no intervention and continue to plague our teens,
Think about what that really means!
Only half our teachers have been properly trained,
Statistics like these do not help eliminate all that needs to be restrained.
Help educators and staff eliminate such acts on school grounds and in our halls,
Support our schools and teachers to make all the right calls!
It does not matter which way a student is shamed,
All must be remedied in order to be tamed.
As teacher and parents we have a big role with such dealings,
None more important than to remind ourselves to trust our feelings!
No matter what we think the repercussions might be,
We are responsible to hold students to the same responsibility.
We have such great responsibility to help make our schools safe and secure,
Students deserve nothing less as they mature!
I pledge to ensure I employ all the traits I am assigned,
To ensure no student is left behind

By: Kelly, a candidate at a teaching credential program

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Broken

Posted: 12/17/2014

Written by Anna Richey and Rich Parkinson
am, f, c, g-sus-g (g-c-d)

On the highway heading out
I disappear without a sound
You never tried to hear me out
You broke my soul I’m damaged now

When I was strong you cursed me weak
With sticks and stones you stole my streak
Out of order, incomplete

Chorus:
(cuz I’ve) Broken into a thousand pieces
Woken from a night of demons
You built my trust then broke my walls
Built me up to watch me fall
Now I'm patching up the seams
You can’t leave me broken

I pulled the knives out from my back
Forever scarred from the attacks
I’m rising now from a crowd of laughs (trying to hold me back)
But I’m complete at last

(cuz I’ve) Broken into a thousand pieces
Woken from a night of demons
You built my trust then broke my walls
Built me up to watch me fall
Now I'm patching up the seams
You can’t leave me broken

Pieces break off now and then
Until I glue them back again

Broken
Broken

(cuz I’ve) Broken into a thousand pieces
Woken from a night of demons
You built my trust then broke my walls
Built me up to watch me fall
Now I'm patching up the seams
You can’t leave me broken

Broken

Broken
You can’t leave me broken

By: Anna Richey

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Perfect is Everyone

Posted: 12/12/2014

My story is really sad. When I’m in 3rd grade, I don’t have any real friends. The kids always make fun of me for my weird personality. They always call me "squeaky voice" and "weirdo". When I’m in my room, I always sob in the inside and every day, I cannot escape the torture. In 6th grade, on my birthday, boys at PE made fun of me and I eventually lost it. I came home in tears because of those jerks. But, in 7th grade, my sister and I bond and she inspire me to see myself as a wonderful being. If it wasn’t for her, I would never feel special. Now because I’m being myself, I have real friends to accept me for who I am. I am telling a very important message: all the people who are going through this horrible crisis, you are perfect in your own way. You don’t need to worry what others think of you because you are a somebody on your own. Perfect is everyone.

By: Valeria

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The surprising truth about rejection

Posted: 11/26/2014

On July 25th I took the TEDx stage in Fargo, ND and shared my most heartbreaking rejections and biggest humiliations in front of hundreds of people. Yes, it was scary and vulnerable and the events I describe are kind of messed up, but I did it for a good reason: I want to take the stigma of rejection and bullying out of our culture’s collective closet.

We each have our own stories of experiencing rejection. Some of them involve bullying, and others are simply a moment in time we put ourselves out there—we were vulnerable—and things didn’t work out how we wanted them to.

These hurt us and caused real pain. I know it did for me. Our fear of rejection causes us to feel shame and pushes us to hide away. It dampens our own brilliance. When we feel this way do we share it with anyone? NO WAY! That would make us look weak and vulnerable. We keep our rejection a secret because we think it makes us unlovable. We’re afraid if we tell others, they’ll laugh at us, judge us, and make us feel even more pathetic.

But that’s simply not true. I tried to hide my rejections for years and it just made everything worse. Eventually, I discovered that seeking support and being open about my challenges made them easier to overcome, and made me feel much better. It made me feel a sense of relief. By opening up it did the opposite of what I thought it would do. Instead of pushing people away, it brought them closer. By sharing my vulnerabilities it made others comfortable in sharing theirs, and this created a connection between us.

It was (and still is) uncomfortable to share, but learning how to let go of my own shame around rejection and instead using it as an opportunity to connect with others has been a major breakthrough in my life. And I bet it will be in yours too. You are not alone and I hope by sharing my story you can see that we are in this together. It’s in our collective efforts that this movement will grow and have the impact on those who need to hear it.

By: Cam Adair

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Don't Take The Blame

Posted: 11/7/2014

Soon as I wake up it begins. Ugly. Sloppy. Unable. It’s always like that.
As I pass they look at me. Fat. Grubby. Disgusting. They proceed.
Nobody does anything. Dumb. Loser. Laggard. They laugh and point at me.
They isolate me. Skinny. Weird. Stupid. It never stops.
They beat me up. They have no limits. It has no end.
I can’t stand it anymore. It’s so painful. It’s all too much.
Nobody admits. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares.
I need help. I can’t do it by my own.
Scream isn’t enough anymore. Ask for help is worse.
I have to put an end.
Don’t take the blame.
Say no to bullying!

By: The advertising students of ESPM-SP/Brazil: Ana Carolina Crepaldi, Giuliana Angelini, Livia Santos, Mariana Bertolani, Marina Roge, Paloma Suzukawa

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Be the Change

Posted: 10/28/2014

Lasting damage caused by thoughtless words
Voicing insensitive judgments just to be heard
Your words are daggers, painful, penetrating, cuts
Your mouth runs off, but results in what?
They walk around with heads bowed low, defeated, drained, and empty
Each word and phrase played over embedded in their memories.
He’s been robbed of years of mental stability and strength
To mend the mental wounds would be a task of significant length.
She tries to mask her life, a stream of treacherous pain
He fights an internal battle striving to stay sane.
She gives of her body openly, worthlessness she feels
He has no understanding of exactly how to heal.
Your victimizing, mistreatment, and harsh verbal abuse
Cause thoughts of depression and sadness, they’ve got nothing to lose.
We must stop the bullying before it’s too late.
Change how you treat others, stop with the HATE.
Be the change, the one to make the first move
Treat others with kindness, only then will it prove
That words will move mountains… at least in their eyes
Many will gain strength and you’ll be surprised
Love and respect make this world a better place
Peace and harmony will triumph and you’ll be amazed.

By: Juli

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All Love, No Hate

Posted: 10/27/2014

“She’s so weird”
“Why is she so ugly?” ”
“Who would want to talk to her?” ”
“Are you contagious?”

This doesn’t even begin to touch the words that I would hear on a daily bases. While most people were excited about the first day of school, plotting their new outfits, or excited to reunite with old friends and make new ones, the beginning of the school year was always just the first day to a 180 day nightmare I would live every day at school.

Things started at a young age, as far back as second grade. I can remember the teacher having to move my desk next to hers so that no one else could pick on me after a boy pulled my chair out from under me just to see me cry. I can remember in middle school, walking down hallways and having to walk over legs being stuck out to trip me, or dodge objects like wet paper towels, pencils, and pennies being thrown at me. During my seventh grade year when my purse got missing and the janitor had to retrieve my purse from the car port where the buses were parked so I could use my key to get in the house that afternoon. In High School, girls would go up to guys, point to me and tell them I wanted their number, and I would have to act like I didn’t see the face or hear the comments of disgust the guy would make, and the laughter of the reaction. During my Sophomore year I remember while I was in the bathroom, the lights went out and I was terrified, thinking that I was about to be jumped. Upon emerging from the bathroom, I came to the realization that it was just a group of kids waiting outside the door to point and laugh at me. These are just a few accounts of the everyday acts of bullying that I would have to deal with every single school day.

I’ve always kept quiet about the bullying that I went through during my school days to my family and friends outside of the school. I often thought of those places as my get away. The only people who truly knew what I was going through are the friends of mine that I was in school with that saw me go through these things every day. I had a best friend and a guy that I was dating at other schools but I never told them anything about the everyday battle I had. At that age I knew that your opinions can change according to the company that you keep. I loved the person they saw me as and I didn’t want to change that, and I was very thankful that other kids couldn’t change that either. I certainly didn’t tell my parents because that last thing I needed was for one or both of them to come up to the school and make a scene, and that become the topic of the week and yet another thing for me to have to deal with once they left.

I can say that halfway through High School and towards graduation, school life got a lot easier. Once these people got to know me, they began to like me and the bullying came less and less. By my Junior year of High School, I had enough and started standing up for myself, putting bullies in their place and letting them know that I was not taking it anymore. I would let a teacher know after class if a person was bothering me during the lesson. In the halls and after school, I would finally shoot back at the names and comments being made. I thought if I ended up in a fight as a result, I’m going down punching. I had remained quiet for so long, after they saw that I was finally taking up for myself, they seemed to back off. After a couple of conversations with me, a few even became my friend. Later on, thanks to Facebook and other social media, I have actually had a few people that have, as adults, reached out to me and apologized to me for the way they treated me during those school years and stated that they admired my courage, and how it didn’t seem to let it bother me.

One great lesson that I have learned from being bullied every day is how to be strong in situations where you feel like you are at your worst. My sister went through some forms of bullying at one point and she told me something at a young age that I could carry with me even into my adult life. Her advice was this:

“The things they say may hurt you, tear you down and even lead you to tears, but the words that hurt worst are the ones that you believe are true.”

No truer words have been spoken. With everything that was being said to me, I had to remember to look in the mirror and tell myself “you are not who these people say you are. There are people who love you, friends who like you and they are the only ones that truly matter.” I had to find my own individuality, and learn how to shut out the negative things that were being said, a skill I’ve carried with me even into my adult life. You have to learn to use those negative words as motivation to prove them wrong, making you better by proving to yourself you can do it.

As I look back at those times, as bad as they seemed, it doesn’t compare to the bullying that is going on in the schools today. In these times where technology has taken over, Cyber Bullying makes those days I spent secretly crying in the bathroom seem like a walk in the park in comparison to what the kids today have to go through. Instead of a prank being the gossip around school for the day, now it can be uploaded on YouTube and Facebook for the whole world to witness. That rumor that was just something to talk about at lunch between friends, can now be a forwarded text. An email containing pictures and other things can be passed around and forwarded a lot quicker than a handwritten note was back in the day. If bullying had the impact on me that it did, I can’t even imagine what my god kids, nieces and nephews are facing. Lives are ending more and more due to bullying. No one should endure the loss of their son or daughter because of this. Parents should pay attention to what is going on with their kids on Social Media, cell phones and emails. You child could be a victim of bullying or worse, be the bully. I think it is important to encourage our youth not to bully other kids and report to an adult when they see other kids teasing each other. We have to let them know that these things are not okay.

October is National Bullying Prevention month and I encourage everyone to get involved. Every October, schools and organizations across the country join together to observe National Bullying Prevention Month. The goal: encourage communities to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on all children of all ages. You can get go to different websites to find out what your child’s school or your community is doing to prevent bullying in your school system. More importantly, make an effort to teach your child that their words and actions can effect someone else. Let them know that they can talk to you if they, themselves are being bullied or to tell a teacher or another adult if you are not around. And most all give them three simple words to live by:

Words do hurt.

By: Cerise

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Real Friends

Posted: 10/23/2014

Today is Unity Day (part of National Bully Prevention Month), and to show solidarity, I will tell my story of being bullied, and how it affected my life, even when it seemingly ceased. I'm not doing this, seeking sympathy or to "out" anyone (I will not mention specific names), rather I want to display how I have come out strong, unlike others who could find no way out, in their minds.

It was the beginning of sophomore year, of high school. My "best friend" (since 6th grade), and I had been inseparable for quite some time. I hadn't seen much of her during the summer, as she had made new friends, but that didn't matter much, because I had made new friends too (if anything it was a fantastic notion, that we could all be friends). It didn't exactly work out that way. As I got closer with others, she seemed to get farther away, even though I had desired to meet her new friends. Social media was relatively new (myspace, specifically), and her new friends had new profiles, so I added them (naturally). After many attempts to meet up with these friends, and many pleasant conversations on social media, I soon discovered that her new friends, were actually fake. Sure, they existed somewhere, they were actual people, but they weren't her friends; she didn't even know them. She had made up all of these elaborate stories about fun times, all of these myspace profiles/posts, fake conversations on the phone, she even told me how one of her new friends' parent died, and how she was trying to console him, etc. It was completely out of hand, and went on for several months - over 5/6 (before I even caught on). I found out it was all a lie, because I found the Real profiles of the Real people, and spoke with them on IM. They themselves couldn't believe it, they had never even heard of her. I told one of my friends, but swore her to secrecy, I mean, I was absolutely devastated.

People at school started treating me differently because I was spending more time with others (my class size was relatively small, and shared nearly every class with the same people), and one of them actually went out of their way to IM me, telling me that I was nothing with out my long time best friend, and that my new friends would dump me in a heart beat, that I had better get MY act together(my "best friend" was an athlete, and not just an athlete, "The Athlete". She was at the top of the food chain, at a school that prided itself on athleticism).

Well of course I was upset, and I finally had the courage to confront her, after not only receiving those IM's, but at the urgency of a friend, a real friend. To make this short, she confessed to everything, and begged me not to tell anyone. Of course I agreed that I wouldn't, I was afraid that people would think she was insane, and I pleaded with her to seek help. I still loved her (I still love her and send positive energy her way), but there was no way I could stay friends with someone whom I couldn't trust.

There were many dark days that followed. There were days that I didn't get out of bed, that I didn't go to school, because I dreaded walking through the double doors, to arrive at english class, where I was forced to publicly recite essays, and work that I had put much of my emotions into (which I cried, while I attempted to do so), only to have to display them, to the very people that despised me, because I wouldn't tell them what happened between us. I kept my word, and I didn't say a thing about it, a time when everyone wanted to know everyone else's business, when gossip spread like a forest fire. I was getting so much hate and negative energy thrown my way because I wouldn't speak about it, I would simply say, "go ask her what happened, I'm not telling". I could even feel some teachers changing their tune with me, and a friend even got some of the hate from fellow classmates, sometimes. At one point a classmate confessed to me, "I wish I could bring a hammer to school, and hit you over the head with it". How could I tell the school; the principal? In my mind, at that time, it was called being a knark. Now I know, it's called standing up for oneself.

Luckily I had friends that stuck by me. That same friend that I was told, would dispose of me, is actually one of the greatest beings in my life. Classmates eventually stopped bullying me, but walking through the school doors was a constant reminder. I would still have this endless anxiety that paralyzed me, and am so thankful I overcame it, with time. After high school, I felt free, and I found myself, and if something like that were to happen again, I know with great certainty, that I would let my voice be heard. Bullying doesn't just happen by classmates in grade school, it happens in college too, by students and professors, as well as people at your work place. If you feel as though you are being bullied, or you see it happening to someone else, be vocal. There is always someone that will listen, heck I'll listen!

By: Dora

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Love Yourself

Posted: 10/21/2014

I care because I've been there and I know how it feels. I was once a small child with a handful of friends and these mean girls used to laugh at me because I was overweight and I wore a hearing aid - I could not hear properly and instead of supporting and understanding, they would take every opportunity to laugh and ridicule me. It affected me, I cried a lot and I thought I wasn't worth much - I wasn't popular, I spoke with a lisp, I wasn't skinny and my hair and nails were not all coloured and primed to perfection and I guess I didn't care about the boys or other teenage stuff that mattered to them.You know what though? It really didn't matter because I learnt to rise above all that. I had me; I was real, I had a good heart, and life was just waiting for me to seize it... with the support of family and belief in myself, I showed all those mean people how much I was worth. I aced all of my exams in high school, got into university and came on top of all my classes and graduated with top honours. Today I am working towards getting a doctorate and my dreams are just coming through bit by bit everyday. Those mean girls? They don't even matter anymore (really, they do vanish). If there is someone out there who is feeling the same way, you need to keep on believing in yourself. Work hard, and your dreams would come through and do not let those people bring you down. Know what you want in life and go for it. One day you will look these people in the eye, hold your head proudly and they would have absolutely no power. Love yourself because you are strong and beautiful :)

By: Anonymous

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Dear Teen Me

Posted: 10/15/2014

Dear Iris,

There's a girl in your school everyone hates. You know who I'm talking about. Tina. Why? You'll never know. Sorry, but that will remain one of your life's great mysteries, more personal than where Jimmy Hoffa's body is buried or who killed Jon Benet Ramsey.

She rides your bus, lives in your town. You know her better than most. You don't really like her either. Maybe her voice grates on your nerves. Maybe it's her braying laugh. Maybe it's her superior attitude. You aren't sure exactly why you don't like her, but you don't hate her either. Why does everyone else seem to hate her? Why are they so mean to her?

You can see her pedaling frantically down that dusty unpaved road in rural New Jersey. Her home is probably a half mile back, not that you can see it much through all the sandy soil her wheels have kicked up. The Garden State. Farmland. Hot and humid.

The people here have sharp edges to them and if you aren't careful they'll cut you to the bone. You weren't used to that when you first moved north from the Deep South. You were a Georgia peach—sweet and soft and easily bruised. You eventually learned how to handle the blades properly, avoid those edges, toughen up from the rogue nicks. You learned to love the blunt honesty, the transparency of their regard for other people.

But your heart hurts watching Tina move closer. Even the bus driver seems to hate her. You hear his grumbles rise in a chorus with all the others'. He revs the engine, closes the door. Tina jumps off the bike in a frantic attempt to cover those last few feet. She miscalculates, though, and stumbles in the dirt. The bus roars with laughter.

Why does she have to put herself out there for ridicule, make herself an even larger target?

The driver opens the door. Still hurrying, Tina brushes herself off as she mounts the steps. Her bike is in an abandoned mangle half on and half off the road. She doesn't seem to care about it, only making the bus, going to school. Why is she so intent on climbing inside the lion's den?

A boy slaps her on the back of the head as she passes down the aisle. He tacks on a few choice words. Her head snaps forward from the ferocity of the blow. She doesn't turn to confront him, doesn't say a word. Another boy strikes her, even harder. Her glasses are nearly jostled off her face. A nudge of her knuckle straightens them. Her eyes scan for an empty seat. Her house is one of the last stops. There aren't many seats left. Inside you're praying she doesn't spot the empty seat next to you. Other people put their feet up or spread out their books to prevent her from sitting next to them.

To your relief she finds a spot several rows in front of you and sits. The bus takes off for the thirty-minute ride to the high school fed by multiple rural communities. Everyone eventually returns to their conversations, their radios, and their books. They forget about Tina. For now.

A few weeks later, there's a school assembly. A play. Yay! No class for fourth period. Thank you, thank you!

The play isn't all that good. You won't even remember what it was about years from now. What you will remember is Tina strolling out on that stage. She's in the play. Really?

The audience boos. Not just a few catcalls from the usual suspects. This sounds like the entire student body. She's speaking her lines, but you can't hear a word she says. The boos drown her out, but she's carrying on like nothing is wrong.

You aren't booing. You are trying to imagine what one person could have done to incite so much hatred people would boo her performance. You want a reason. You need a reason. Ice water runs through your veins and tingles creep over your scalp. You know this girl, her sister, her family. Your conscience is gnawing at you, telling you this is wrong; this is unfair; this is cruel.

But never once do you seriously consider doing anything to stop what's happening to Tina. After all, if they can do this to her, they can do it to you, too. Silence is your friend. Silence is your ally

I hate to tell you, but silence was a false friend who tricked you into participating in Tina's bullying. I know you probably aren't shocked to hear me say this. You've felt guilty about it for a while now. When you remember Tina, you will always feel guilty for being an accomplice by default.

You'll be happy to know I looked for and found Tina on Facebook the other day. I didn't think I would be able to track her down so easily, but I did. In hindsight, I shouldn't be surprised. I assumed life would have kept on kicking her and grinding her under its boot. I was wrong. She's a missionary in the Ukraine, has a big beautiful family with a husband and sons who look like leading men in romance novels. She looks happy and healthy, even if a few pounds plumper like so many of us. Wow. Good for her.

Now, you might be thinking: seems like that experience made her stronger and therefore, in the long run, it was good for her. Maybe. Maybe not. That's not the point. Tina is not the point of this letter or this story. The point is, her experience was your experience and it was bad for you. Unspoken outrage has a way of eating its way out, eventually, and it's not always pretty in the way it manifests—panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and deep regret.

Here's the deal. Speak up for the Tinas in your life. Don’t look the other way assuming that could have just as easily been you. Pay your debts as you go, and don't build up that huge guilt mortgage. You don't have to grandstand your support. You don't have to punch a bully in the nose or deliver a scathing rebuke. Sometimes all you need to do is wave Tina over to that empty seat next to you or clap for her performance or call your mom to go pick up her bike out of the dirt. Remember that.

With much love,

Iris

Iris St. Clair is the author of the recently released contemporary young adult novel, Louder Than Words, about a teen struggling to find the courage to speak up. Iris believes in the two-year "fish or cut bait" dating rule and has a 20+ year marriage and two sons as proof of concept. She lives, writes, dreams and dances in the rainy Portland, OR area.

By: Iris St. Clair

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