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Bullying prevention: Power of 100



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October 05, 2011 - Brandon Twp.- Bully, n.—a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.

According to bullyingstatistics.org, "statistics show that bullying is on the rise among young adults, teens and children. The rise in these bullying statistics is likely due to a form of bullying seen in recent years called cyber bullying. This type of bullying has gotten immense media attention over the past few years with instances of cyber bullying pushed too far, and in many cases leading to cases of teen suicide or death."

At Brandon High School, social studies teacher Kristin Martin is leading a campaign to put an end to bullying and hopes to get at least 100 people to join her at the first meeting of "The Power of 100," at 3 p.m., Oct. 19, at Brandon High School, 1025 S. Ortonville Road. The meeting will take place in front of the BHS library.

"The Power of 100" is a bullying prevention group that has been implemented in other high schools to a great deal of success, including Swartz Creek, also in the Flint Metro League.

"The idea is to have 100 staff and students all over the high school looking for bullying situations and telling people to stop," said Martin. "Our goal is to have 100 people at that first meeting to inform them of what the group is about and how laughing encourages bullying, violence and racism."

The group will use positive peer pressure and go about their everyday lives at school, but with a greater awareness of signs of bullying and determination to put an end to it by speaking out.

"Cyber bullying is a big problem with social media networks like Facebook," said Martin. "We want kids to know how to use media appropriately. Facebook can be very derogatory. A kid that would never bully in school would bully online because no one can see them. A lot of bullying has reverted from Facebook and could escalate to suicide. We want this prevention group so that doesn't ever happen here."

Martin notes that the majority of students at Brandon High School are good kids, but there is still a bullying problem, with incidents like kids tripping others, knocking books out of another student's hands, and general nitpicking and teasing. If a teacher confronts the bully on their behavior, she said, they will often say the person they were bullying is a friend, and they were just joking around. She believes if they hear from a peer that what they were doing is not right, they may realize they were being a jerk and stop. The advent of Facebook has taken bullying to a whole new level.

"Facebook is a huge part of their lives and if they see something online or a bad picture, they can't delete it and it's up there everyday," said Martin. "There are more ways to get to a person by bullying these days than a rumor. Bullying used to be word-of-mouth, now you can e-mail, text, call, send a Facebook message. There are 10 different ways to torture, including a rumor that might not be true."

Bullying eats away at the person to whom it is done, Martin said, causing them to lose sleep, be unable to study and have a general lack of concentration.

Bullies themselves are trying to fit in, or be funny, Martin said. They are insecure, maybe even picked on themselves by adults at home.

"We are going to take every step to prevent bullying and make sure it doesn't come to Brandon," she said.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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