Active approach to bullying issue

A few months ago, a program called Generation Citizen came to my school, Alice Fong Yu. Generation Citizen is a program that helps students take action in what their school needs improvement on. Our class of 31 students voted on the topic of bullying. We thought that bullying was a big issue because we all have witnessed bullying and have been bullied.

Every year, 3.2 million kids get bullied, and 10 percent of all bullied kids drop out of school. Bullying has linked to 75 percent of school shootings. Bullying ruins self esteem and learning. Before taking action, we had to make a plan. We know that in reality, it’s impossible to eliminate bullying completely, but we will try our best to reduce it as much as possible.

Our focus issue was reporting bullying anonymously. The root cause was not having a way to anonymously report bullying. Our goal is to build a physical dropbox and ebox online to be able to report bullying. Our democracy coaches and the class decided an online drop box should be made. We used the website builder Weebly to build the ebox, which sends an email to the school counselor, Mr. Tim English. Our school’s vice principal, Ms. Cate Hanrahan, agreed, but we had to get the opinions of the whole middle school. A week later, a few students in our class created a survey to hand out to the middle schoolers.

The results from the bullying survey turned out to be different than we expected. More students were experiencing unjust treatment than we thought. Then we decided that having an anonymous drop box or website would have a huge impact for those who are too shy or embarrassed to contact our counselors. The drop box and website will really help make all the counselors’ jobs easier.

We wrote a reflective essay and sent it to Mr. English, and we held several meetings with him to talk about the anonymous reporting box. We then decided to buy our own dropbox, but how would we get the money? In order to have enough money to buy the two dropboxes, we needed to start a fundraising program. We decided to have a bake sale at school during lunch.

Our first bake sale was on May 14, and we earned $46.78! The outcome was so successful, we decided to have more bake sales throughout the week. Our last steps to our goal were to buy the box from a hardware store, set up posters around the school to encourage students to participate. A few days later, our teacher, Mr. Kubey, and our democracy coaches Shan Shan, Selene and Anya told our whole class that they would pick five students to go the Civics Fair. They said they will pick the most hard-working students to represent Alice Fong Yu. It turned out that I was one of the five students! At the event, we would have to present what we did on a board and have a small speech with it.

When we first walked into the room, we noticed that not only were we competing with middle schoolers, but high schoolers as well. At The Civics Fair, each group of five had our own table with a board. There were multiple rounds where judges would come and listen to our presentation. After six rounds, all the judges went upstairs to tally our scores. Next was the award ceremony. Our group received the action award! We came back to school very proud and confident. Being able to be a part of this experience showed me that I can make a difference.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to fully achieve our goal. But our group is planning to continue throughout next year as eighth graders. We hope that we can make a huge difference in our school. Bullying comes in many forms, and all of them have negative effects. No student should ever run away from bullying. I feel that all students can make a difference at their school no matter what.

Raylynn Nguyen has been a student at Alice Fong Yu since kindergarten and will be in eighth grade this fall.

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