Middle School Students Help Launch Anti-Bullying Campaign
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - More than five thousand kids in Tennessee were victims of bullying last year. It's a problem that can have devastating effects but a new campaign is tackling the issue.
Friends Lauren Jernigan and Laurelle Campbell came up with a seemingly simple idea last year as 6th graders as a result of their experiences.
"Mostly it was just like little things like one person (saying) oh I don't like you, you're ugly or whatever," Jernigan explained.
Middle school can be a difficult time in any child's life.
"One day you're fine and you have a bunch of friends. And then one day you're just seeing who your true friends are," Jernigan said. "And then you're like I have no one I can actually call a friend."
Bullying easily makes the feeling of isolation even worse.
"Even if someone doesn't say it to your face they can say it on the internet and it can hurt you just as bad."
STARS Nashville is helping turn the two middle school students' idea into an anti- bullying campaign. It's called "Bee A Friend." Nashville Predators Colin Wilson has signed on as a supporter. NewsChannel Five Meteorologist Lelan Statom and other notable names in Nashville are also joining the effort.
"One out of every four kids is involved in the issue," STARS Nashville CEO Rodger Dinwiddie said about the statistics.
"Bee A Friend" pairs a student who is being picked on with another student who commits to being their friend for at least a year.
"So people won't feel alone and feel like they're lonely and isolated and nobody cares," Jernigan said. "You have that one friend who will help you through it."
Experts say it's an effective way to combat the issue.
"There's nothing that will support someone that's being bullied like having an advocate," Dinwiddie added. "Like having someone to walk with the pain and trouble and suffering that goes along with it."
It's all starting because two kids are fed up.
"Anybody can say it's sad, oh it's a bad thing," Jernigan said. "If you take it one step further you can help somebody."
Students interested in joining the "Bee A Friend Campaign" should make a two to five minute video describing how they hope to implement the program at their school.
The videos can be sent to STARS Nashville or posted on the organizations Facebook Page.
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