EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSGroups Come Together For Bullying Prevention Efforts
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kera Mashek
Videographer: Shelby Spradling
Web Producer: Kera Mashek
Reported: Oct. 8, 2013 10:17 PM EDT
Updated: Oct. 9, 2013 10:40 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
October is National Bullying Prevention Month and we want to bring awareness to a problem thousands of students across the country are dealing with. In Kanawha County schools alone, nearly 400 cases of bullying were reported last year, which is down from years past.. But dozens of cases likely don't get reported, and many kids across the country go to class in fear of how they might be treated.
That's why several organizations here in the Mountain State are coming together, determined to help students feel safe in school and bring bully behavior to a stop.
"Kids are talking about me and saying that I'm ugly and I'm too skinny and I don't belong in this world," said bullying victim Hailey Kennedy.
Kennedy is one little girl who represents similar stories unfolding in local schools every single day.
"Bullying hurts no matter what. If it's verbal, sometimes it's worse," said Dr. Ron Duerring, Kanawha Co. Schools Superintendent.
And bully behavior is cause for real concern because studies have shown kids who are bullied are likely to develop more serious problems from eating disorders, to depression, and even becoming a criminal..
"Bullies are making mistakes. They're not bad kids. They're just taking a wrong path. It can be from a home issue. It could be something that happened to them at school. It comes from all different ways, but peer pressure can be positive or negative. Be a positive influence and say it's just not cool and we don't want this here," said Tonya Barnett-Huff with Bully Free West Virginia.
That's why parents and students came together at the state capitol Tuesday to let people know about resources available to help, while also taking time to recognize schools who are making good strides to prevent bullying before it starts. One of the schools honored, Chapmanville Middle, which has focused its attention on getting every student involved so they have something to strive for, and don't become bullies. The result, summer school attendance hit record highs this year, and a new program for girls called "Lady Leaders" is making its mark.
"Specifically for girls with what we're doing, I think a lot of times they're even more influenced by media. And there's so many ways to develop a really poor self image whether it's body or psychologically. So it's really important to develop these groups for them to develop solidarity and recognize concerns they have are shared by a lot of their peers," said Elizabeth Brunello, Americorps Health and Wellness Vista and Chapmanville.
Those initatives are giving reasons to be hopeful that when communities come together, determined to fight back against bullying, they can make a real difference.
Bully Free West Virginia encourages families to check out its Facebook page to learn more about community resources that can help students and families cope with and overcome bullying problems, and school districts ask all students to report any bullying behavior they witness or are a victim of.
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