Students stand up: 'Never stand by and watch bullying happen'
EUGENE, Ore. - Sheccid Lavariega Ramirez said something changed as Madison Middle School: There are fewer fights.
"Most people would take their phones and videotape it," the 8th grader said. "Now it's like, you know, there's somebody doing something about it."
All 450 Madison Middle School students are trying to stop bullying. Middle school students at the Arts and Technology Academy are part of the same program.
It's a daunting task. A 2007 survey found one in three students ages 12 to 18 reported being bullied at school. A study of high school students released this year found nearly half had been bullied in the last year - and half admitted to be bullies.
"Imagine coming to school and having all staff and students never stand by and watch bullying happen," said Anne Tomlanovich, a Madison Middle School counselor.
At Madison, all 450 students take a class called "Expect Respect" designed by Tomlanovich and her colleagues.
Students talk about why bullies bully.
"And then they start talking about effective ways to interupt bullying behavior," Tomlanovich said.
In the class, student role play scenarios and learn the power of the word "stop."
"In fact, we've taught in the curricula that ,stop, is our school-wide signal that you need to stop what you're doing," Tomlanovich said.
Since the class started, Ramirez said there are fewer fights.
But not all bullying is physical.
"People will sometimes - they'll call you names and spread rumors," said 7th-grader Miranda Castor-Risen, "but it's not as much as it was last year."
The next phas of the program is about to start at Madison: student forums. The idea is to empower the young people to take ownership of this effort. They'll work to problem solve real school situations and change the culture.
"Words lead to actions, and actions are not always good," 6th-grader Austin Daniels said, "but if these forums were to come about, maybe people would start doing good things to each other."