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Sean's First Day

Posted: 6/17/2019

Sean’s First Day of School, produced by South African independent filmmaker Niki Gower, is a wonderful short film about the impact students have on creating a welcoming and caring school community, and how this can, in turn, help create a world without bullying.

This film was made by the students from a public secondary school on the main island of Mahé in the Seychelles, off the east coast of Africa. Niki explains, “I was approached by a teacher from Belonie Secondary School. Ms. Esther Fernandes-Villela wanted to work on a video project with a group of students who had shown an interest in arts and culture. We left it up to the kids to decide what the topic would be, with the only guideline being that it needed to address a problem or cause in their school or community. They chose bullying. With a loose script, we met up on a Saturday; the kids sacrificed their weekend to do so. We had a lot of fun putting this together and the children were very enthusiastic. The film was subsequently entered into the Seychelles Festival National Du Film d'Education, where it won first place. More importantly it was screened in a packed auditorium filled with school students, teachers, and parents—the audience it was intended for. I really hope that what we created goes on to educate and inspire thousands of others to stand up against bullying, in all its forms.”

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The Gemstone Heart

Posted: 6/7/2019

Hello, my name is Jaida Rogers.

The reason why I was interested in making the video about bullying is because I was bullied from 1st grade all the way until 8th grade. During this time, I would see other people around me getting bullied as well. Seeing that made me feel very sad and disappointed knowing that there are people out there other than me that were being bullied. But not only was I sad for those that were being bullied but also for the people that were doing the bullying.

I know that people don’t do something unless they have a reason for it. I believe that the people that are bullying others are going through something in their school or at home. In my film, that is part of the reason why I had the target show kindness to the person that was bullying her.

The reason the video is called Gemstone Heart is because the gemstone heart represents the personality and heart of the target. A gemstone is very hard to find and is therefore very rare. However, once you do and you get a good look at it, it's very beautiful and you wonder why the earth can’t have these stones all over the place and why they aren't easier to find. And this holds true for the victim as well in my film. The victim is very rare, meaning her personality and the way she views things is very hard to find, but once you find a person like her you become very impressed and fond of that person.

Thank you for taking the time and looking at my film.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does being kind impact a bullying situation?
  2. Does all bullying stop when someone is kind, and if not, what more can be done?

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Postive Vibes

Posted: 6/1/2019

It all started in 2017 when two brothers, Ethan, age 9, and Merritt, age 6, were out surfing and Merritt got pummeled by a big wave. He reached the shore and exclaimed, “That was crazy, but epic! Actually bro, that was CREPIC!” and an idea was born: the boys wanted to design cool surf and skater apparel, and give back to the community.

With their parents’ blessing, Ethan and Merritt began their small surfing apparel company called Crepic. “One of the main issues we focused on with the boys was the concept of social entrepreneurship and using their little company to do good in the world,” said their dad, Chad. “We asked them what a meaningful cause would be for them and both immediately suggested bullying.” Bullying was a natural choice for Crepic. While both boys have been teased for wearing glasses and know how hurtful bullying can be, they also appreciate the issue from a different perspective.  “Our Dad is a pediatric plastic/reconstructive surgeon,” said Ethan, “and we’ve grown up with so many of his patients who have become our friends.” 

Chad hosted a viewing party of the movie “Wonder” at the Children’s Hospital in Miami. After seeing “Wonder,” Ethan confided in his father how moved he was by how the boy in the movie was treated. It was this connection between PACER and “Wonder” that helped the boys to decide to choose PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to receive a portion of the proceeds from Crepic.

Ethan and Merritt say they “truly are committed to spreading positive vibes and the concept behind their company is that life is not about being ’the best‘, but rather about being ’one’s own best.”  The message on their website is about spreading kindness and helping to prevent bullying!

At CREPIC, we're not into negative labels. We like spreading positivity and good karma throughout our community, and we all know that nobody likes to be called names be it on a board, on the field, or in the classroom.  That's why we are using our company to help end a problem so many young people face today.

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A Dreamer Against Bullying

Posted: 5/30/2019

Dorian learned at a young age that it is important to care about others and to be involved in the community. When Dorian hung out with friends, they told many stories about how they were bullied. He tried to stand up for classmates at school when they were bullied, but he was discouraged when he was called a “tattletale” or told to sit down. This upset Dorian, who wanted to help. He went to his mother and asked for her advice.

With his mother’s support, Dorian wrote and had published a book called DAB, Dreamers Against Bullying. He decided he wanted some of the proceeds from his book to be donated to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. Dorian also became the leader and organizer of Bikers Against Bullying, a youth event that holds bike nights in his community. He takes pride in speaking at several schools and has created dance skits related to bullying prevention.

Dorian wants other kids to know that bullying is wrong, and that they can stand up for themselves and others who are experiencing bullying. Dorian says, “I just want to inspire others to do good things and let them know it is okay to speak up.”

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I Want You to Know

Posted: 5/25/2019

“I want you to know that you are not invisible, you are not forgettable; you are wonderful.”

This is one of many kind lyrics in Grace Rembinski’s new song titled, “I Want You to Know.” She co-wrote this song, recorded in both English and Spanish, for “friends and for anyone who has ever been told that they are not good enough. To show them that no matter how awful people make you feel, how hopeless life may seem, things do get better; and many others have been in your shoes. If you believe in yourself, that's all you need and with that, anything is possible.”

Grace first experienced bullying when she was in 6th grade by a group of people she considered her friends. It began when she started singing and performing in the local community theatre. Soon after, she found out they were finding any reason to make fun of her. “My "friends’ would walk by me in the school halls or in our neighborhood like I wasn't there. I was being made fun of for my ‘big crooked teeth,’ for being a ‘nerd,’ for dressing differently than everyone else, and for the way my hair looked. They said I was ‘different,’ and I was feeling left out of everything,” said Grace.

One day Grace decided she didn’t deserve to be treated that way. “I was done going through the things I had gone through. I stopped trying to make excuses for the way I was, and made new friends that loved me for me. I also just didn’t care what people thought anymore. This was probably the hardest thing for me to do. To embrace the things that made me ‘different’ and to just be myself.”

After connecting with a music producer in Nashville, Grace realized that through music, she could show others that they deserve to be treated with kindness. Due to the affects bullying had on her, Grace really wanted to build a song about self-love, and she did just that with “I Want You to Know.”

“Now, I have a wonderful group of friends, who unfortunately have also experienced bullying. My hope is that people, adults and kids, can listen to this song and feel inspired to be themselves.”

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Bully Free Starts with Me

Posted: 5/20/2019

As a young girl, Haley Bird was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy. She could not touch, breathe, or be in the same room with peanuts. As a result, she grew up knowing what she could and could not eat. As Haley got older, things began to get more difficult. Her peers would tease, call her names, and even wave candy in her face. Teachers would hang-up signs in the classroom to show that no peanuts were allowed, which made her even more of a target. When the bullying got worse, Haley’s parents met with her school to implement a 504 plan to insure she was safe on school grounds.

“I always knew I was different and faced many obstacles because of my food allergy,” says Haley. “However, I am fortunate that my parents have been so supportive of the issues regarding my food allergy, as well as my experiences being a target of bullying because of it. That is why it is so important to tell someone you trust if you are being bullied or if you witness bullying behavior.”

For these reasons, Haley, now Miss Arkansas International 2017, chose the platform of “Bully Free Starts with Me.” She is educating young children to know where to turn if they are being bullied and to not let the words, actions, or ignorance of others defeat them. She is sharing this message with as many people as she can, including Arkansas state senators, representatives, and the governor who care so much about bully prevention. “I am working as a voice with them,” says Haley.

“No matter what people say to you it does not define the person you are. Yes, I was bullied in school, but I now use my story to empower those around me. If we all foster love, I believe that bullying will eventually end. One word or action can change a person’s life. Stand up for those around you.”

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Good Friends Do Not Bully

Posted: 5/15/2019

Gabriella Aguirre is a junior in high school, and is currently Miss Southeast Iowa's Outstanding Teen for 2017. She is exceptionally enthusiastic about dancing, singing, and playing the piano, along with possessing a passion for politics.

Gabriella first experienced bullying in middle school, where she was one of 16 students. Due to small class sizes, finding friends that she had things in common with was difficult. She felt isolated from both her peers and teachers because they did not agree with her beliefs. Therefore, Gabriella turned to one of her many passions, dance, to explore new friendships. Unfortunately, she was then bullied by the person she least expected.

“We were halfway through the dance season when my best friend told me she didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. Throughout the rest of the season, she was talking about me behind my back and spreading rumors. I was so scared to go to dance and face her. Who knew that one of my best friends would bully me?”

Through her personal experience with bullying, Gabriella understands the importance of standing up for others, and that true friends treat each other with kindness. She felt supported by her mom, her sister, and her dance coach. When Gabriella’s dance coach stood up for her, she realized what an impact that can make for someone who is going through a hard time, and that others should start standing up for what is right.

“For the longest time, I was wondering why my old best friend did not want to be my friend anymore. It was eating me up inside, but eventually I came to the conclusion that good friends do not bully. Kids today should be taught that you stand up for one another, not stand by someone that is “cool” or “popular” which could hurt others. It certainly made a difference when my dance coach stood up for me.”

Gabriella has been sharing her story and talking about bullying prevention at schools in her community. She also plans to organize a community-wide bullying prevention event!

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Teen author writes books to send positive messages to young children

Posted: 5/10/2019

Justine Danielle Del Monte is currently in the 11th grade in California. She really enjoys traveling and attended a semester abroad in South Africa. When she was eleven she began her writing with “Drew’s Dancing Drum,” and continued Drew’s adventures with her second book, “Drew Meets Boo,” written at age 12.

Her most recent story, “Drew and the Cyber Bully,” was written at age 13, and it continues to educate children on bullying; she aims to send positive messages about acceptance to young children. She likes writing for kids as she relates to many of the struggles they face at such a young age, and her passion for writing has enabled her to turn her books into her Girl Scout Gold Award. (Justine has also earned the Bronze and Silver Girl Scout Awards.)

What started as a simple literature assignment for school turned into a book series (with discussion points), interactive Apps available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin, and an animated short film. Justine and the illustrator, Brendon King Chappell, had the honor of being keynote speakers at the Solano BookFest in 2015. Justine has done international community service in Nicaragua, Bali, Singapore, and Peru. She has also been a guest speaker at numerous schools and for Girl Scout Troops and is deeply honored that her simple stories are encouraging others to be "nice" and treat others with respect.

Justine says, “I wrote the books because bullying is so prevalent and kids need this information at a young age, far before middle school. It’s also important to understand why kids bully and to see not only how they are hurting others but how they are hurting themselves.” The books provide “important lessons about self-esteem and how to handle challenging situations.”

Find more information at Drewsbooks.

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He Finds the Hero in Himself

Posted: 5/5/2019

Caleb first experienced bullying in the 7th grade. The bullying continued into 8th grade and then into his freshman year. He was told by his peers that he would never amount to anything, but during his freshman year, Caleb’s life changed.

“One day during English class, we watched a student-led bullying prevention presentation by upper classmen,” Caleb said. “The presentation educated me about the different types of bullying, the effects of bullying, and how to stand up to bullying, and they showed videos of students sharing their experiences with bullying. Their motto was ‘Anyone Can Be a Hero’ and stand up for bullying. It was in that moment that I wondered if I could.”

One year later, it was Caleb giving that same bullying prevention presentation to freshman. By the following year, he was in charge of the entire school program, including expanding the effort to the middle school where he was first bullied.

The program offers a survey about bullying at the beginning of the year to collect data. The presentation includes NCT (Name It. Claim It. Tame It) Scenarios, the students sign a Be a Hero pledge, and feedback is gathered from the freshman about what they learned, what was most effective, and what could be improved to make more of an impact.

Feedback from students has been positive, which includes: “It changed my life,” “I now feel I have the courage to stand up against bullying,” and “I now know that I don’t have to fight bullying alone.”

“Since the student-led bullying prevention presentation has been implemented, we have seen the rate of bullying dramatically go down and countless lives touched,” Caleb said. “I know that there are so many young adults struggling with mental health and that the rate of bullying is growing every day, and that there are many teens out there who feel completely and utterly alone, helpless, hopeless, and powerless. I want to empower others to do incredible things with their lives, and perhaps, even more importantly, truly impact the lives of others.”

It is Caleb’s goal to expand this student-led program to all public schools in Portland, Oregon, and to other schools nationwide!

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The Power of Video

Posted: 5/1/2019

Six minutes and 37 seconds can be very powerful. Just watch Jonah’s video.

Jonah and his family moved to Chicago from Ireland when he was in elementary school, and he was the youngest and the shortest in his class. In fifth grade, Jonah was playing basketball during school with some kids who were mean and he realized, “I don’t want to hang out with these kids anymore.” After several years of experiencing and witnessing bullying, he started thinking about how bullying affects kids and schools.

Jonah is “really big into film,” and it doesn’t hurt that his dad is a filmmaker and his mom is a dance instructor. Friends from school and his dance class shared some of their bullying experiences by anonymously writing their stories on strips of paper. Jonah took those home and started creating a script from those experiences and his own.

This video demonstrates the impact of bullying on everyone because, as Jonah says, “If you are not part of the solution, you can still be part of the problem.” It also draws attention to cyberbullying, in which the kids who bully others are often faceless. It shows that anyone can participate in bullying behavior, and that the experience is very frightening.

Jonah really believes kids are getting it. He believes this video is making an impact on students from all over the Chicago area and beyond- it has reached Ireland, UK, Australia, and Indonesia. Since creating the video, there have been more than 540,000 views. Schools are showing the film in gym and health classes, and coaches are showing it to their teams. Jonah’s mother is in awe at how much support they have gotten.

Go ahead and share this film! We want everyone to see it.

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