Education

'Back off, bully!' event encourages students

Posted October 23, 2011 3:39 p.m. EDT
Updated October 24, 2011 5:56 a.m. EDT

— An eighth-grade student in Wake County knows what it's like to be bullied.

"People needed somebody to pick on, I guess, and I was there," said the student, who asked to remain anonymous. "I was the weird, ugly and fat kid. I wasn't well liked."

The "Back Off Bully: Be Bold" event at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary Sunday helped raise awareness about bullying and money for the local anti-bully project called Peaceful Schools - NC.

The project works in schools to encourage everyone to play a role in stopping the bullying, especially those who witness it.

"We can empower bystanders – people who are watching the bullying going on – and help them know what they can do. If they see bullying going on, we are able to diffuse the situation," said Sarah Stiegler, executive director of Peaceful Schools - NC.

The Peaceful Schools - NC program uses tools, including yoga and martial arts, to help children release energy in a positive way.

It's being tested at Central Park School for Children in Durham and Carolina Friends Middle School in Chapel Hill. Organizers said they hope to expand it to more Triangle-area schools.

Bullying can have devastating outcomes, Stiegler said.

"Students who are being bullied and have very low self-esteem are committing suicide," she said.

The eighth grader who spoke to WRAL News said she was too scared to tell anyone when she was being bullied.

"I was afraid that they would go and talk to the kids and tell them what was going on and make it worse," she said, adding that she's not being bullied any longer and has a good group of friends.

Organizers of "Back Off Bully" hope that events like it will encourage students to speak out against bullying.

"I would suggest they stand up for themselves," the eighth grader said. "Find a group of friends who are nice and wouldn't do this. Talk to your parents or a school counselor."