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Bullying is one of the most prevalent, debated and analyzed issues of our time. In just about every incident involving a young person acting out, suffering depression or harming themselves, bullying can be identified as a complicating factor—if not the main issue—in their life.
But what does it mean to be bullied or to be a bully? What’s the best way to stop it? What’s the situation in Hillsboro schools?
Those are the questions that were posed to a group of students representing all four of the District’s comprehensive high schools on November 15, 2012, at a brainstorming meeting held in the Liberty High School library. From their perspective, the issues in Hillsboro weren’t so much the overt bullying—though there was acknowledgement that takes place—but rather the things friends say to friends on a daily basis.
What was striking about the brainstorming event was the realization by adults in the room that to be effective, any district-wide anti-bullying effort would need to be created and led by students themselves.
After spending the following spring planning, District Safety Director Casey Waletich met with City of Hillsboro staff member Kristi Wilson, who heads up the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC), as well as some of the YAC students in July 2013. They discussed YAC spearheading a year-long project of taking the initial brainstorming feedback from their fellow students and using it to create a meaningful anti-bullying campaign.
YAC students embraced the project and were eager to get started. That fall, Casey and Kristi connected the students with Lines for Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing substance abuse and suicide by providing support for people dealing with bullying, depression, addiction, mental health, and other issues. Lines for Life held educational workshops for the students in December and January, and then worked with the students to create a video and marketing campaign.
The students’ key message to their peers was to re-think and re-define where they stand by re-examining what it means to be a true friend. The group thought too many anti-bullying campaigns focused on just that—a “just don’t do it” approach—and their feeling was that if you tell teenagers not to do something, you’re risking them ignoring you or wanting to do the forbidden thing more! So they instead focused on getting their classmates to stop and think about how they treat their friends and acquaintances. Are you being a “frenemy”—someone who says they’re your friend, but whose actions are more like those of an enemy? If so, is that who you really want to be? How does it feel when you're treated that way?
Students created promotional posters describing what it means to be a friend and what it means to be a frenemy, as well as ones depicting the difference between social media posts that are hurtful and those that are supportive.
YAC members are currently working with their individual schools’ advisors and administrators to create a communication plan they feel will best resonate with their student body. The plan is to do multi-faceted roll-outs at each of the high schools this fall, and then to begin sharing the message with middle schools in the spring.
March 13, 2015
Patterson 4th graders show off their Bully-Free World buttons after presenting their anti-bullying project to the School Board on February 24, 2015.
After reading an article in Scholastic News about a girl who took a stand against bullying in her school and community, a group of fourth-grade students at Patterson Elementary School decided to do the same thing at their school.
Together, the students created a logo with the slogan: “Bully Free World – We All Have a Future.” They then created a pledge, which asked students to agree to speak up when they see bullying, reach out to others who are bullied, be a friend whenever they see bullying, and promise to be a buddy not a bully.
To help them promote their campaign, the school held a No Bullying Spirit Week February 9-15.
The days of the Spirit Week were as follows:
The themes of the week were to be respectful, be responsible, be safe, be kind, show compassion, help someone, say nice things to people, and get to know someone new.
Nearly every Patterson student and staff member has now signed the pledge and agreed to promote a Bully Free World! The students even attended the School Board meeting on Tuesday, February 24, to share their project, and received signed pledges from all Board members and executive staff.
By Matt Johnson, KATU News Published: Oct 20, 2014 at 10:20 AM PDT
Hillsboro schools are trying to stop bullying by changing both the message and the messenger.
Students designed and created a “Frenemy” campaign dealing with hidden bullies who are part-friend, part enemy.
"They mainly talk about how maybe you're hurting people's feelings when maybe you're trying to be a friend,” said Aswin Datta, a sophomore at Glencoe High School.
Before the students devised their plan, they thought about others they had seen before.
"Our peers just thought it was really cliché and that that message was just being repeated over and over again, and it didn't really have much meaning anymore so we found this idea of a frenemy is a better way to appeal to students,” Datta said.
Hillsboro’s Youth Advisory Council was behind the campaign and thought their message would resonate with their classmates better if they started redefining who the bullies really were.
They worked on the project for 10 months, meeting nearly every week. The work turned them into teen marketing czars. They created a PSA titled “You’re a…” that focuses on students talking behind one another’s back.
Posters line the school’s walls with a similar message.
"There's a lot of people that are seeing the posters – definitely looking and thinking about it,” Datta said.
The posters will be switched out every three weeks to keep the campaign fresh. It’ll spread to all Hillsboro high schools later in the fall. In the spring the Youth Advisory Council will bring their message to the city’s middle schools.
October 3, 2014
Alicia de Jesus Hernandez has just begun her senior year at Hilhi and third year as a member of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC), a group composed of 30 students from each of the District’s comprehensive high schools.
Last school year, Alicia and her fellow YAC members worked on creating the District’s anti-bullying campaign: Re-Think, Re-Define, Where do you stand?, and now she is excited about sharing it with the rest of her classmates at Hilhi.
A positive climate and pride campaign called “Live BLUE” has been in place at Hilhi for the past two years, but according to Principal Arturo Lomeli the current anti-bullying campaign will take those efforts to the next level. “What excites me most about this campaign is that it’s different,” he shares. “The fact that students conceptualized and are leading it makes it more personal and relevant than anything adults could have created.”
“Live BLUE” plays off of the school’s colors, and also serves as an acronym for Belong, Lead, Unite, and Excel. “We took Live BLUE and expanded it to fit our anti-bullying campaign,” explains Alicia. “We are encouraging people to Belong to the right crowd—one in which people are kind to each other; Lead relationships in the right direction; Unite diversity; and Excel together—because when people feel comfortable and accepted, they can focus on learning.”
Alicia and the other Hilhi-based YAC members have already met with the leaders of some of the school’s clubs to share information and encourage them to promote the campaign in their own ways throughout the year. Information has also been shared with staff, and with students at the grade-level meetings that kick-off each semester. A school-wide assembly will take place later this year.
Some of the campaign’s “Frenemy” posters can already be seen around campus and, according to Alicia, these will be rotated out every month or two. “We want the posters to stay fresh, tell a story, and show that we are progressing,” she notes.
Stay tuned to the Bullying Prevention page on the website for more information, links to resources, and updates on the campaign’s roll-out across the District.