In a small town like Bayfield, Colorado, no one thinks anything bad happens; especially not bullying. People think, “How can bullying be a problem here?” It is a problem – a big one. Bullying happens everywhere – whether in a small town or big city. I started a bullying prevention project because I wanted to raise awareness among my fellow students that bullying is a problem and help them understand the huge impact that bullying can have on their peers. I wanted people to realize how damaging bullying is.
I wasn’t physically bullied. I was harassed and taunted because of a false rumor being spread about me. None of the bullying I ever experienced was physical; however, I can guarantee that it hurt just as much, if not more.
Because of the pain I suffered, I wanted other students at my high school to realize that it is a big problem. In order to really reach the students, I would have to get them involved, and I thought that the best way to do that was with a school-wide assembly.
I had students take two surveys, one before the assembly, and the other after the assembly. The first two surveys gathered basic information about what the students think happens in their school. The first survey asked students the following questions:
- Do you think bullying is a problem?
- Have you shared or liked anything mean on social media?
- What mean things have you heard or said in school?
The second survey asked for bullying experiences and stories kids could share anonymously.
During the assembly I had students come up to the stage and read aloud the hurtful comments that had been said and heard in the school. I also had students share some of the anonymous stories from other students about their personal experiences. Many of the students said that hearing these comments and stories helped them really grasp the intensity of hurtful words and the impact that those words could leave on people.
After the assembly I had the students participate in a follow-up survey to collect students’ opinions, what they learned from the assembly and how they will bring that knowledge to the community. This follow-up survey was very important to me. I wanted to make sure it was truly helpful to the students and that it highlighted how much bullying is a problem and why it needs to be stopped. The students’ participation in the assembly drew more attention to the issue and had a great impact on my peers.
I know that an assembly like this is just the first step to dealing with bullying at my school, but it was an important step to take—to begin to raise awareness and voice students’ concerns about bullying. I plan to continue working on this project and hope to impact many other schools. As a part of our Friends of Rachel chapter, the high school students went down to the elementary school to help teach the kids about the effects of bullying and why it is so damaging. We hope that by bringing this message to younger age groups, we can prevent this problem and help to decrease the bullying problem in Bayfield. I am also working on bringing my assembly presentation to our middle school.
I think that raising awareness about bullying can help students realize what they are doing is wrong, and take steps to one day stop bullying completely. I want this message to be spread around and impact as many people as possible. Bullying is the most damaging and unnecessary thing in this world and is something that could definitely be removed from society.