While many victims of bullies feel helpless to change their situation, others are using their experiences to find creative ways to crack down on the problem.
Mashable recently highlighted four teens who experienced or witnessed bullying and decided to do something about it: Natalie Hampton, Sanah Jivani, Peyton Klein, and Tori Taylor.
The site reports:
After taking time to recover from the severe bullying she experienced, Hampton built an app called Sit With Us that helps students find new friends with whom they can share lunch. Jivani, now 21, had been bullied for having a hair loss condition known as alopecia and founded International Natural Day while in high school. Klein noticed how students who spoke English as a second language were excluded and discriminated against, so she launched an after-school program to promote tolerance and friendship called Global Minds Initiative. Taylor, who'd experienced bullying, fought to bring a peer counseling program to her high school.
Susan M. Swearer, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, explained that the inspiring stories are important because it shows other victims of bullies “there’s a lot students can do on the individual level.”
Mashable interviewed each of the four students to talk in-depth about what inspired them to speak out and connect with their classmates about bullying, as well as the process they used to bring their projects to life.
The site also offered valuable advice to students who want to make a difference in their schools, such as how to craft an effective message, recruit influential people, and work with school officials to integrate student-led campaigns.
James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, wrote about the importance of addressing the specifics of each school’s moral ecology to create personalized solutions to bullying and other issues.
In “The Content of Their Character,” a summary of character education in a wide variety of American high schools, Hunter wrote:
We can only care for the young in their particularity. If we are not attentive to and understanding of these contexts, we are not caring for real, live human beings, but rather abstractions that actually don’t exist at all.
Swearer points students who want to develop an anti-bullying campaign to inspirED, a website by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence that offers resources, process, events, projects and activities to help students make their schools a better place.
“At inspired, we believe that young people’s voices matter,” according to the website. “Our free resources, designed by teens, educators, and SEL experts, empower students to work together to create more positive school climates and foster greater wellbeing in their schools and communities.”
The initiative - a partnership between the university, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, and Channel Kindness, a project by the Born This Way Foundation - contends 75 percent of students in high school are tired, bored, or stressed out, while 88 percent claim they want to feel happy, excited and energized.
InspirED “was created to bridge the gap between how high school students feel and how they want to feel,” according to the website.