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Burton Tech Creates a Whole Year of Bullying Prevention

Posted: 6/1/2019

When faced with a persistent bullying problem at Burton Tech High School, the student, faculty, and administration decided to do something big: they devoted a whole class period for an entire school year, from August until June, to bullying prevention. The whole endeavor started when two 10th graders went to a teacher with the idea of doing something about the bullying problem that had impacted them both personally. That teacher, Allison Levine, helped them plan for a specialized “advisory” that would be devoted to reducing the amount of bullying in their school and supporting those who were being bullied. Ms. Levine went to Principal Rogelio Sanchez with a plan to have the advisory and plan activities throughout the year for the student body.

Starting with exercises and dialogue about their school culture and the bullying that was happening, they brainstormed how they could involve all students in becoming more aware of solutions to bullying they might be experiencing. After naming themselves the “Mentors and Protectors” (MAPS) they planned a large celebration for Unity Day in October that involved the school community, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, representatives from the military, trustees of Burton Tech, and parents. There was a poetry slam, speeches, and booths with games, crafts, and other activities. After that was over they began planning for what they called a “Bully Bootcamp,” where the MAPS students would teach and lead activities with the students from the rest of the school, one advisory after another until every student had participated. When that was completed, again with the support of Ms. Levine and Principal Sanchez, they began to write lessons for the incoming freshman orientation happening Summer 2017.

For their efforts, the Los Angeles Youth Advisory Board of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center voted to give MAPS a “Faces of Change” award and the school gave them their medals and certificates at an assembly attended by the school community and local officials. What’s next for this amazing group? Doing it all over again in the next school year! The Mentors and Protectors of Burton Tech are creating a community of kindness, acceptance, and inclusion a year at a time.

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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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Peace Rally Says No to Bullying

Posted: 5/30/2019

Lockhart School in St. Thomas has been involved with PACER’s Unity Day and other bullying prevention efforts over the past few years. This April, they held a Peace Rally to create kindness and prevent bullying in their school. During the week they had an amazing time with skits, poetry, music and dance, all while emphasizing respect, tolerance and kindness. Joanne Saunders, a teacher at Lockhart Elementary who planned the rally, says, “We truly believe in our mission to help all students learn to get along, be respectful and considerate of each, and stop bullying.” Read more about how Lockhart School says no to bullying and yes to peace here >>>

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Project on Bullying and Social Pressure

Posted: 5/29/2019

Ms. Dermer’s 5th grade class at Morikami Park Elementary School in Delray Beach, FL, was thinking about peer relationships and bullying. As part of their International Baccalaureate Program they are required to complete a yearlong study on a topic of their choice; the class chose bullying and social pressures. The students wrote to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to help answer their questions regarding peer pressure, bullying at school, and how social media plays a part. The class has been busy all year long: they created a website, sponsored Unity Day, read the book One to all kindergarten students and did an activity called the "Wrinkled Heart," and held a “No-Uniform Day” fundraiser. As part of the “No-Uniform Day,” students were allowed to pay $2 to dress casually at school. At the conclusion of this project, Ms. Dermer’s class decided to donate the money raised to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center!

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I Have A Dream

Posted: 5/28/2019

A powerful video created by the student group “istand” at Citrus Grove Elementary in Palm City, Florida. Shawna Hixon, along with Sharon Moody and Alicia Carter, coordinates the efforts of these amazing students and shares, “People don’t realize bullying occurs in elementary school. If adults took a chance to sit down with a group of kids, like we do with this group, they would realize that bullying is there and students don’t know how to deal with it. The students came up with this project and I think you can see from their message when watching this video that they really care and want to help others. We are here to help teach them strategies early, before middle and high school, to deal with bullying and how to share them with others. But, most importantly, that we are here to listen, help and stand beside them when they feel so alone.”

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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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NLE Explorers Tweet to Prevent Bullying

Posted: 5/20/2019

Students at Newton-Lee Elementary School took a unique approach to bullying prevention by sharing their questions, ideas, and advice about bullying on Twitter. This Twitter Chat encouraged students to support one another as they work to make their school a more accepting and inclusive environment. Check out what the NLE Explorers have to say!

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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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