AUBURN — An anti-bullying initiative that was started by a local student and her mother has taken the next step to becoming a successful entity at Auburn Junior High School.
Stop the Bull, a grassroots effort to stop bullying among students, was launched in mid-January when seventh grader Lizzy Dickson and her mother created a Facebook page called Stop the Bull.
They also made a few neon green T-shirts with their anti-bullying message printed on them.
Since then, what was a grassroots initiative has become a school-sanctioned club with a staff advisor and involvement by school resource officers, assistant principals and other faculty and staff. The club held its first meeting Wednesday in the Auburn Junior High School library.
Principal David Oliver opened the meeting, discussing with students the importance of treating other as you want to be treated.
Oliver also encouraged the students to ask an adult for help if they are bullied.
“Communication is key,” he told them. “You can’t let these things go on and on for weeks and weeks and weeks.”
Amy Dickson, Lizzy’s mother, was proudly wearing her red Stop the Bull T-shirt at the meeting. Before showing students an emotional video about the effects of bullying, Dickson told students about the soon-to-come Bully Locker — a locker in the school that will be painted and designated as a location where students can drop off notes asking for help if they are being bullied. SRO Chris Major will check the locker regularly.
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Major said he has also started a Facebook page called “Auburn Police SROs” where students can send him messages directly and ask for help and guidance in bullying situations.
After the bullying video, Amy Dickson talked to the students about the reasons why some children bully.
“A lot of times it’s the person who’s bullying who has the problem -- not you,” she said.
She advocated for helping both victims and their bullies as the best way to stop bullying.
“Everybody has to work together to get it to work,” she said.
As the meeting closed, students finished the rest of the complimentary pizza and filled out order forms for a couple different styles of Stop the Bull T-shirts. Steve Dunn, assistant principal at the junior high school, said Stop the Bull has the support of the adults in the building and that if students ask for help with bullying, they will receive it.
“I like kids to be an advocate for themselves,” he said.
Dunn said students now have several avenues for reaching out for help, including speaking directly to an SRO or other adult and sending a message to Major on the SRO Facebook page; soon students will be able to drop messages in the Bully Locker.
Amy Dickson said she’s not sure how often the club will meet in the future, but said students in other schools and districts have shown interest in what Stop the Bull is trying to do.
The club’s first fundraiser will be March 1 at Auburn High School. The Harlem Wizards game that will take place that night is part of Majorpalooza, an annual fundraiser from which proceeds go to local charities. Major, the event’s creator, said money raised March 1 will be donated to Stop the Bull.
Staff writer Kelly Voll can be reached at 282-2239 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at CitizenVoll.