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Help make a bully-free world

By Shaila Bhatia | May | June 2020
Bullying is something that so many people go through, but not many people notice how much it can change people. I hope to one day make a change in our world. This is a change that will end all bullying, meanness and all the drama. That way our students all over the world can live a bully-free life. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger I have gone through so many different types of “mean,” and at one point bullying, but what I have gone through is nothing compared to what millions of kids have. The main reason why I am so confident and so passionate about why we need to put a stop to bullying is because I have gone through it. Just like Kelly Clarkson said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and it did for me.  In kindergarten through first grade, I struggled with some mean girls, but it wasn’t bad. When I look back on those grades though, I remember always being told I can’t play. In second grade, there was a girl who would continually be mean to me, and I thought she was my best friend. One day she was my friend, the next day she was mean. I didn’t notice this, though, until two years later. In the third grade, a girl whom I thought to be my friend turned out to be very mean. She went around and told everyone to run away from me when I came. She told others bad things about me and continually was giving me rude remarks. That one girl had left scars on me, even though I don’t see her anymore because she moved away.  In fourth grade what two girls did to me tore me down a lot. At the beginning of that school year, I didn’t have a lot of friends after what happened the year before. These two girls would do so many mean things to me. They made me feel left out when they spoke in their best friend language they created. They would pretend that they didn’t hear me. They would also kick me and say it was a test to see if I was a robot. They would talk bad about me to my friends and tell on me for no reason. That one year put me to the test, and at that point, I stood up for myself and made it stop. Then in fifth grade, I went to the bathroom and heard them lying, saying I did bad stuff to them to my friends. At that point, my parents had to get involved. In fifth grade, I faced drama, but I also found my best friends. When I started sixth grade it was a big jump. Classes were different and drama continued. I also faced great changes. Still recently, this year I had two of my very best friends taken away from me by one girl. When others may think it is the end of the world, it is not. It was very upsetting and made me very upset, but it just made me notice that they were not my true friends, and in the end it helped me. It made me notice that true friends will always stay by your side.  Be strong, be brave, be you I continue now to stand up for myself and my friends. I also fight for what is right. “Be strong, be brave, be you” is my motto. It means to stand up for yourself for what’s right. It means to not be afraid of what could lie ahead because like what Kelly Clarkson said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It also means to always be yourself. It means to not care what others think of you. Even if you’re a girl who likes to do stuff like karate. Or if you like to dance. Or if you like sports. Even if you are classified as LGBTQ. Whatever makes you happy, you should not be embarrassed about it.  According to pacer.com, one out of every five students have reported being bullied. Bullying takes a long time to progress, so that means one out of every five students have not dared to be strong, to be brave, and most important of all, they haven’t felt the courage to be themselves. Out of the students that have reported being bullied, 13 percent were made fun of, 12 percent were the subject of rumors, 5 percent were bullied physically (such as tripped or pushed), and 5 percent were excluded from activities. It also reported that slightly more female students have been bullied.  Many schools have tried bullying prevention activities, but they only bring down bullying by 25 percent. Most kids say they are bullied because of their appearance, gender, disability or sexual orientation. I see this going on in my school every day. Once it gets to the point when the whole school is making fun of someone or bullying them, it’s hard to put a stop to it. That is why leaders need to help. That is why not just your school’s teachers need to fight against bullying, you and your school’s leaders need to help, too. After noticing the amount of bullying and rudeness going on in our schools, it made me think a lot, and it leads to the idea of having a schoolwide anti-bullying week. Non-bullying week A non-bullying week may not be the most original idea, but I did make some changes to it to make it my own. During this week, we in our Altamont ASB, who are planning it, really want to focus on the word “resilience.” What resilience means is to be tough, it means to not let other people’s words put you down. Showing resilience also means standing up for yourself and not to be afraid to be you. I also want to focus more on standing up for yourself. I know that in our school we have had so many assemblies and meetings telling bullies to stop but, unfortunately, it doesn’t work. When people know how to stand up for themselves, a group can be formed together to overpower bullies. If everyone can help and everybody can try to make a change in our world, and if we try hard enough the change will happen. There are many plans I have for this week. First, we establish at the beginning of the week that it is a non-bullying week and what it is about. Then our ASB goes around and leads activities in different classes that each have their meaning. For example, one of our activities is Meeting Sam. This is an activity when the whole class forms a circle. Then we take “Sam,” who is a stick figure on a piece of paper, and pass him around the circle. When they receive the paper, each person says something mean to Sam and crumbles him up a little bit. This continues around the circle until he is in a ball. Then we pass it around saying something nice to him and un-crumbling it a little bit. Then after he is fully uncrumpled, those who are leading the class say that “When somebody is mean to you, it crumbles you up, as you see with Sam. After you are nice to him, he uncrumples, but you see he will never be a flat piece of paper and wrinkles remain in him, just like real life.” There will be five different activities like this that will continue throughout the week. We also will have assemblies going over how to stand up for yourself and so much more. We also will talk about how you can make somebody feel when you bully them. How someone being bullied feels Nobody wants to be bullied and many people fear being bullied. I think, in general, all of us have something we hate about school. Tests, math, and pretty much it could be anything else. But, imagine waking up to go to school and having no hope. Being scared of your peers. Having no confidence. Being sad and knowing you will go to school or anywhere else and face humiliation in front of others and knowing rude people come your way. That’s how someone being bullied feels, but sometimes part of the reasons bullies bully people isn’t completely their fault. How a bully feels A bully is not different from many of us. They can also feel beat down and ashamed. A bully is made. The main reason a bully is a bully and they do all that rude stuff to you and others is because they also have gone through the same thing. Bullies do this because they feel they have to. They feel they have to be mean to get around the world. There is a friend I had; he was nice, but everybody made fun of him because of his physical appearance and his talents. It had gotten to the point where almost the whole grade was against him. I stood up for him, but one against 100 — in the end, the 100 people win. He then became ruder and ruder. The only way he could feel like he had meaning was by being mean. He then pushed himself away from everybody and eventually started bullying and being mean to others. Scars are left   As I have said, I went through a lot and continue to, just like many others. I look back on those grades sometimes and all I can remember was the mean people. And that goes for so many others. Even adults will look back and remember the mean stuff people say to them. Just like the activity, Meeting Sam — mean things you say will leave scars on you forever. All kinds of stuff in the world cannot replace the fact that people think you’re ugly, or they don’t want to play with you. It sometimes can get worse, because if bullies are not stopped, they just continue to bully others as they get older. Make a change Bullying is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed. We must stop it now before it grows to a level where it is unstoppable. It is not enough for just your school teachers to go against bullying. You and others at school need to help. Everyone should know how to stand up for themselves and learn from the incidents of bullying and meanness. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Everyone should be strong, be brave, and feel free to be themselves. I believe that everyone can and should make a change in their community and their school because we need a bully-free, kind world. Everyone can help make that happen, and I encourage you to help this cause. 
Shaila Bhatia is a student at Altamont Elementary School in the Lammersville Unified School District
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