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Del Oro students take a stand against bullying

Bullied girl uses her experience to help others
By: Kathy Maynard, Loomis News Correspondent
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DEL ORO'S ANTI BULLYING CLUB

Del Oro’s Anti Bullying Club was formed to increase awareness of bullying at school and online and help give students techniques to deal with bullying. Assistant Principal Bridget Farren shared the following steps to help students avoid and resolve conflicts.

  • Respect one another. Seek to understand and be understood without belittling others.
  • Think before you speak, pause before you post. You cannot take back anything that becomes public in cyberspace. Embarrassing or demeaning someone with words or pictures opens the door for others to hurt that person, too.
  • Stand up for yourself if you think you are being bullied. Trust your instincts, stay confident and set a good example by telling anyone who is directing negative words or behavior toward you to stop.
  • Don’t try to retaliate or involve others to take your side. Lashing out just escalates conflict.
  • Reach out to a trusted adult or impartial person to help send a clear message to the person that it is not OK to hurt you.
  • If conflicts don’t end, focus on things that matter to you.
  • Remember that bullying is only as powerful as you and others allow it to be.

Del Oro’s Anti Bullying Club meets Tuesdays during brunch in Linda Smith-Rains’ classroom.

For more information, view the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcgAF8GcBIw and the club’s
Facebook page at Del Oro TAKE A STAND against Bullying.
~Kathy Maynard

Social media had taken bullying from the playground and brought it home where kids can be humiliated or harassed via texts and posts.


Adults may recall their school bullies as boys who picked on smaller kids and stole their lunch money, but bullying today is more widespread and has taken to cyber space. The ease of publicly posting comments and photos on sites such as Facebook and Twitter has expanded the problem. Cyber-bullying now affects girls as well as boys.


Just ask Samantha Harris, the Del Oro senior who spearheaded the school’s Anti Bullying Awareness Week rally on Feb. 12.  Bullied since seventh grade, Samantha said she  suffered in silence until her junior year when the pressure seriously threatened her health.


Samantha sought help from Bridget Farren, a Del Oro assistant principal, to find strategies to end the bullying and decided to start the Del Oro Anti Bullying Club.


“I was teased, picked on, called names and criticized about my physical appearance. I was terrified to log onto the computer,” she said. “I don’t wish my experiences upon anyone and I wanted to create an outlet for people to go to and a club to raise awareness to help stop bullying at our school.”


Last spring, Samantha found other students interested in forming an anti-bullying club and she asked teacher Lynda Smith-Rains to be their club adviser. In October, the club introduced Del Oro to the idea of anti bullying by participating in National Stomp Out Bullying Day, she said.


Then the club members prepared for the rally by recruiting local businesses as sponsors and working with local photographer Jessica Feely to produce “Take A Stand,” an anti-bullying video.


The video revealed that more than one third of students report being bullied at school and nearly half say they have been bullied online. Girls are more likely to experience social and psychological bullying, while boys tend to be bullied verbally and physically. Kids who are bullied are more likely to have lower grades, abuse drugs and alcohol, experience depression and anxiety later in life and commit suicide.


During the rally more than half the students in attendance stood in response to being asked how many had been bullied. A quarter of the students stood to admit they had been the perpetrators of bullying.


Farren defined bullying as unwanted aggressive behavior that is intentional and meant to harm. She gave students several positive steps to deal with conflict in their lives. Her main message to students was “do not be a victim.”


“We all experience conflict. We often disagree with the thoughts, feelings, ideas or behaviors of those around us. But it’s not OK to demean, belittle or embarrass those who live their lives differently than we do,” she told students. “Our purpose today is to give you tools to seek understanding, so we can peacefully exist together.”


Science teacher Jen Isaac told the assembly that she was bullied from kindergarten through high school for being the only Asian in her school. She said her grandfather asked her once why she let others’ words hurt her and from then on she decided to be the best person she could be in everything she did, she said.


Samantha said she was bullied because of the people she chose to hung out with and activities she chose not to participate in. She said once she decided not put up with it, her self acceptance skyrocketed, giving her the confidence to “turn my negative experiences into positive ones.”


Samantha challenged students “to think before you speak and pause before you post ... treat people the way you want to be treated ... step in and reach out to lend a hand and make a change.”


Senior Alexia Arietta said she found the rally “heart-felt and meaningful.”


Freshman Gino Navarrete said, “I like how you can take a stand and stand up against bullying.”