Students were a little starry-eyed at Fenton’s AGS Middle School last Friday afternoon at an anti-bullying rally.
Students were a little starry-eyed at Fenton’s AGS Middle School last Friday afternoon at an anti-bullying rally, while they listened to celebrities tell their tales about bullying.
The Bullies Reality Foundation, founded by Tim Levasseur, brings reality television stars to schools to encourage students to stop bullying, and intervene if they see someone being a bully. They did the presentation at Linden schools earlier in the week.
Singer Vivian Hicks, “Big Brother” stars James Huling, Natalie Negrotti and Stoshua and Suhaila Al-Tamimi all shared their experiences with bullying.
Hicks, a young singer, said she had many problems with online bullying. “As I started getting older, the comments started getting really bad. When I was 12, I opened up this DM (direct message) and this person said ‘hey, Vivian. Watch your back. I’m going to kill you in five days.’ It really scared me,” she said.
Online bullying is on the rise, according to cryberbullying.org. Their latest poll taken in August 2016 shows that 33.8 percent of middle and high school students report experiencing online bullying, with an average of 28 percent since 2002.
Huling said he got picked on because he was poor and because of his race. “I had to run home from school because I didn’t want to get beat up. It was something I thought was normal, something a part of everyday life,” he said.
During his senior year of high school, he changed the lives of bullying victims by being their friend.
“I made sure I said ‘hey’ to them every day in the hallway,” he said.
Levasseur talked to the students about how 28 percent of kids between the ages of 11 and 18 are bullied, and most won’t tell their parents.
“If you are a bully, and you think those people around you — (who are) laughing while you’re making fun of somebody else — like you, I’m going to tell you you’re sadly mistaken.”
Levasseur said the “friends” of a bully go along with what a bully does because they don’t want to be the next victim.
This organization places emphasis on creating a social network of support, Levasseur said. After an event at a school, kids follow him online on Twitter and Instagram, and often reach out to him for support.
“You can DM me 24/7,” he said.
After everyone talked, Hicks performed a few songs and the group threw free T-shirts into the bleachers of students.