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Jenks Students On Board To Stop Bullying

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JENKS, Oklahoma -

More students are opening up to talk about bullying.

With technology constantly at our fingertips, kids say it's even harder to just be a kid in 2018.

We have all probably witnessed bullying in some shape or form, it's nothing new. 

The latest federal numbers show 21% of students reported they've been victims, that's down from 32% 10 years ago.

Education is key and a new project at Jenks East Intermediate is hoping to drive that number down even lower one kid at a time.

The hurtful words are still the same but the platform in 2018 is different. 

"It was really, really emotional. Like it was really sad. One of the saddest things that ever happened to me, really,” said 6th grader Kylan Wallis. 

"Say they have Instagram and they take a picture of themselves. I've heard people say like 'you're ugly',” said 6th grader Nic Treat. 

Busy hallways can be lonely, scary, and mean. And now with Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and other sites, bullying has no boundaries. 

"I think 100% social media has made the difference," said Andrea Bubert with Jenks Public Schools. 

6th-graders Kylan Wallis and Nic treat don't want others to suffer in silence.

"A few years ago, I was bullied from that perspective, and I want to make a change and take a stand,” said Wallis. 

So, they're helping spread the buzz word on campus: empathy. 

"I think empathy is just looking out for the little guy," Wallis said. 

"Empathy means to me to try to share feelings with one another," Treat.   

This school year, the staff started a new mission to stop the meanness.

"One of the things we were realizing is that it's our responsibility not just to teach content, but to teach character. Developmentally, 10, 11, and 12-year-olds really are kind of focused on themselves and their emotions and they need a little bit of extra help trying to think 'what does this mean for somebody else’," Bubert said. 

For three weeks, lessons stopped and conversations started. 

"If someone is not having a great time at lunch we do go and sit by them and help them and be like ‘what's wrong?’," Treat said. 

"Kids are playing in other groups and there's been some diversity after the empathy project and that’s what we've been needing," said Wallis.  

Statistics show that 1 in 5 students are bullied in middle school and it doesn't let up in high school. 

"A lot of the bullying that we are addressing and seeing is more covert now, at least at Jenks High School,” said Student Assistance Program Coordinator Paula Lau. 

Lau said students tune out when they hear the word 'bullying'. But parents need to tune in. 

"The common response when kids come in and tell me that they're being bullied is 'please don't tell my parents. please don't say anything.’," Lau said. 

Verbal, physical, and social bullying have lifechanging consequences.

"Quite frankly, in my role here at the school, I see a lot of this leading to increased mental health issues for our kids. Things like depression, anxiety, not wanting to come to school," Lau said. 

That's why changing the culture early-on might prevent hate in hallways and online later on. 

"When you take 1,000 kids and the teachers at that campus and you're all moving in the same direction, you can see really powerful things happen," Bubert said. 

"I just want to put myself out there so other people can be like, If I'm having a bad day, that guy is going to help me," Treat said. 

"I want everyone to know that it's not just you that's alone, and that you can make a difference in life," said Wallis. 

All teachers statewide are required to have bullying training. 

A new study shows nearly 41% of students who attend a virtual charter school in Oklahoma left traditional schooling because of bullying.

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