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Huntington Middle School Launches "Kindness Campaign" To Counteract Bullying

Reported: Apr. 30, 2014 5:13 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 30, 2014 11:19 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (Darrah Wilcox) -- Huntington Middle School eighth grader Justine Boltz says, "Being a bully is not very fun."

She said while it may not be fun, it's what you have to do to be part of the the so-called popular clique.

"If you don't bully with your clique, then they're asking, 'Why aren't you bullying?' and you'll also get bullied if you're sticking up for another person," she said.

Those people become victims of bullying.

"There were days where I was just slammed into the locker, and nobody would do anything about it," eighth grader Lauren Young said.

She said sixth grade was the hardest for her.

"I was too afraid to go and do something about it," she said.

She said a strong family support system and making new friends the next year helped her have a more positive outlook. Now she's one of 17 peers picked to launch a "Kindness Campaign" at Huntington Middle School.

It's called "It Matters to Me" and it encourages empathy and kindness.

Parent volunteer Jennifer Williams leads the group's weekly meeting.

"People are always going to be mean," she said. "But if you're empowered, and you feel good about yourself, it's not going to destroy you. It's not going to make you want to commit suicide or make you want to hurt someone else."

The campaign is designed to bring together students of all backgrounds to develop solutions.

"They know that they have some influence, and that's really, they're empowered, and they're empowering others, and that's what we want to see, because hopefully that will just spread and change the whole culture," Williams said.

Young said she hopes it helps bullies see things from the perspective of their victims.

"I just hope that they know it's not okay, and to spread it, because people listen to them," she said

Boltz said she already understands by hurting others, she's hurting herself.

"Later on in life, the person you bully could be a lawyer that you need in the future. What are they going to think? They're probably not even going to want to help you, and a doctor, they're probably not even going to want to save your life when you need them," she said.

In the meantime, Boltz said she will try to be more patient, and put herself in the shoes of others.

"If I get angry, I just need to walk away from the issue, and not like call anybody stupid or call them a name, and any little thing like that can hurt somebody's feelings," she said.

If the pilot project is effective, administrators plan to implement it in other schools next year.



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