COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A group of students from W.A. Perry Middle School are trying to initiate change amongst their peers, encouraging students to speak out when they see bullying taking place at school.
One in five students experience bullying in school nationwide, varying from physical, mental and online abuse. More than half of students who are bullied report they do not tell adults at school, making the need for peers to step forward and speak up more important, according to eighth-grader Paige Delaine.
“Well, me, I like saying something about it, because I don't want to see anyone get bullied and people to be hurt and stuff like that,” she said. “So, I feel bad."
Delaine and a group of classmates decorated posters and took part in the Speak Out at The State House bullying prevention rally. While they admit bullying happens everywhere, they want fellow students to stop being bystanders and take a stand.
“We try to teach our kids the difference between bullying and a simple conflict because sometimes they are used interchangeably,” Dr. Robin Coletrain, principal at W.A. Perry Middle School said. “Sometimes there’s a misunderstanding and it’s not actually bullying so we’ve had to do some bullying education.”
In some cases, Dr. Coletrain said mental health professionals need to get involved because the root of the bullying goes much deeper, both for the victim and the bully.
Studies show more than half of bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied.