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Disability Stories

Don't Bully, Be A Friend

Posted: 6/13/2011

Pete Scampavia, a young man with multiple disabilities, completed this bullying prevention video "DON'T BULLY, BE A FRIEND" as his Eagle Scout project. Pete wanted the message to be from kids to kids because "Sometimes we just don't want to listen when adults go on and on about something."
This video is near and dear to Pete's heart. "I did my Bullying Prevention project because I was tired of my friends getting bullied. So I decided do a video on how to stop bullying".The message of the video is to ask you, the bystander, to act when you see someone being bullied. In other words, the bystander has a choice to make: Don't bully, be a friend. Pete's friends, fellow scouts, and volunteers from the Arc of Northern Virginia stepped in as actors in this video, with professional assistance from the Arlington Media Center of Arlington Public Schools.

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Watch the YouTube Video, "Don't Bully, Be A Friend"


Help Students Who Bully

Posted: 6/13/2011

Sabrina, a 12-year-old, has experienced both sides of the bullying issue. When she was nine, she was bullied relentlessly because of her speech impediment. By the time she was 11, she was bullying others. School staff took her aside and told her that she was physically hurting other students.  

"I denied it all, but the school officer convinced me that I really was bullying kids. She told me that if it didn't stop, I would be arrested or kicked out of school, and that I needed help. I was kind of shocked," Sabrina says. "The officer gave me a reality check. First I was scared that I could go to jail and then ashamed that I hurt other kids."

There were several reasons why Sabrina bullied other students. "Some kids would irritate me. They would have something of mine or they would hit me," she says.  "I didn't want to be known as a snitch, so I tried to deal with it myself and that was not a good plan." 
"Sometimes I was defending myself before they could hurt me. With other kids, I don't know why I bullied them. Sometimes they would do something, and I didn't know it was just an accident. For the majority of the bullying, I really was mad about other things and I took it out on other people" 

Sabrina wishes someone had taken her aside sooner and helped her to understand what she was doing. Talking with her school officer made all the difference. "She told me what other kids would feel like when they were bullied and that helped,"  Sabrina says. " She told me to not think about my feelings, but to think about their feelings." 

Now Sabrina has joined the bullying prevention movement and is sharing her experiences to help others. Here's her advice for:

Students who bully
1. Think about what other people would be feeling. "I know people who bully for fun, but it's only fun for them, not for anyone else," Sabrina says.
2. Think about what you're doing and try to find help.

1. For kids who have been bullies, try not to judge them on what they've done in the past.  
2. For kids who are messing up, talk to them instead of telling them that they're bad and sending them back to class. Help them understand why they are bullying.

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Inspired By Her Sister

Posted: 6/13/2011

Jonna, a 7th grade student, is on the Teens Against Bullying Youth Leadership Board and sister to 6-year-old Amber, who was born with hydrocephalus—an excess accumulation of cerebral fluid in the brain—which has led to Amber living with very complicated medical issues and inspired Jonna to becoming an advocate, speaking out about issue that are important to her.

Jonna has been very active in bringing bullying awareness to her school in coordinating an awareness week, leading a petition signing event and speaking in front of parents and educators

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Dear Teens Against Bullying,

I have GREAT news!!!!!! I brought the anti- bullying petition to my school and instead of just having kids signing it at lunch we had a whole activity to go with it! We did an anti- bullying week, and monday (the first day of the awareness week) the students at my school did an activity during homeroom that taught about different kinds of bullying; and who we can stop bullying! then for the whole week students could go and sign the petition. Then once they signed it they got a little dyecut of a person and signed their name. Then we hung up the little dyecuts in the front window of the school. Roughly I got 230 signatures.  
During the week, as I was walking out of the school there was a mom of a student that was admiring the many names that hung on the front window. She said to me and my mom that she is finally so happy that someone is doing something about bullying. She said that her child goes to school here and that he is bullied. She looked as if she were about to cry. I also spoke at a PTO meeting (Parent Teacher Organization) and they felt that what I was doing was great.


My Story

Posted: 5/23/2011

I happen to have Asperger Syndrome. I like a quiet classroom because it helps me pay attention to the teacher. I am very interested in what the teacher is telling us and I find it extremely frustrating when the other kids are too noisy for me to hear and the teacher doesn't make them be quiet. I also like to collect sticks and bring them home, play pretend video games during recess and sing songs when I'm happy. I know I can't sing while I'm in the classroom.

Mom and Dad have taught me that would be disrespectful of the other kids trying to concentrate. But why are they allowed to talk? And why do they get away with teasing me about wanting to take a stick home when the teacher gave me permission to take it?

Why do I get in trouble when I tell adults what happened and they don't do anything, so I figure I have to make the mean kids stop myself and the mean kids don't get into trouble just because nobody SAW them be mean to me?

The BIGGEST thing for me would be if teachers would believe me and give the bullies consequences, instead of just me when I try to stick up for myself after I've told the teacher and nothing was done, so I feel like I have to take care of it myself. I just want to learn in class and have a few friends.
If someone doesn't like me, that's ok, just leave me alone then. But they don't have to be mean to me.

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Posted: 5/23/2011

When I first reported bullying, the school handed me a two page form to fill out. I handed it back because I have a learning disability and needed help to fill it out. They wouldn't offer assistance.

I endured months of bullying until my parents found out by accident. I still didn't tell them everything. They instructed me to report it and followed up for several days. When I still didn't my mom asked why and I told her about the report. She went with me the next day and they told her she couldn't help me with the report. She immediately found the principal and informed him that the policy prevented children with disabilities from having access to reporting incidents of bullying. She told him she was helping me with the form and that he needed to change his policy so that students with disabilities could take the form to their guidance counselor for assistance in filling it out. Make sure reporting procedures are accessible to everyone.

In special education classes there should be monthly discussions about bullying, what it is, what it looks like, how to get help and how to report. I need constant reminders and assistance with things like this because of my disability. Let me know that I can have assistance. In all classrooms teachers need to establish clear policies on how classmates are to be treated and these should also be revisited regularly.

Not one of my classrooms has ever had anything posted about bullying and intolerance of it. I think a visual reminder in all classrooms would be beneficial.

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