Surviving name-calling for being autistic, molestation, depression, death threats and even attempted suicide is just a glimpse of what students who are objects of bullying have to endure on a daily basis.
As part of a national campaign to stem bullying, Palm Beach County participated in the 2015 Do The Write Thing Challenge, which is part of the National Campaign to Stop Violence, and students wrote more than 27,000 essays and poems on the subject.
The challenge gives middle school students an opportunity to examine the impact of youth violence on their lives through classroom discussions and writing.
Students communicate what they think should be done to reduce youth violence and make personal commitments to do something about the problem.
"The essays and poems written by the students were both heartbreaking regarding the physical abuse and mental anguish they experienced due to domestic violence and bullying, while at the same time inspiring to see how the students have positively addressed these challenges in their young lives and have committed themselves to helping others affected by violence and helping to prevent violence," said DTWT campaign chairman Bill Bone.
Two local students, Colby Guy, an eighth-grade student at Watson B. Duncan Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens, and Maya Monson, an eighth-grade student at Independence Middle School in Jupiter, will represent Palm Beach County in Washington, D.C. during National DTWT Recognition Week July 11 to 15.
"Being an autistic boy growing up in the suburbs of Long Island, N.Y. and then later in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, violence has affected my life in many ways," Colby wrote in his essay.
"Ever since I was a 7-year-old second grader, I have been called names like gay, retarded and worthless just because I am different from everyone else, but December of last year, somebody took it way too far."
Colby received threatening anonymous messages on an online website, stating that if he did not commit suicide by Christmas, the person making the threats would come to his home and murder him.
They will present their views on youth violence to Congresswoman Lois Frankel and other members of Congress, the U.S. Secretary of Education, the Attorney General of the United States and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
On May 5, Colby and Maya, along with 10 finalists were honored at an awards ceremony at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach.
Annie Wu, an eighth-grade student at Congress Middle School in Boynton Beach, was fourth runner up in the girls category.
A first-generation Chinese American, Annie writes how she was bullied because of her ethnicity and as a result, ended up bullying two younger children in her family.
"I was in first grade when I was first called ugly," she wrote in her essay. "I never told my parents about it. Yet, from that point on, I felt myself becoming more and more self-conscious of myself."
"Slowly I felt myself become someone I was not," she wrote.
Annie loves science and one day hopes to work in the mental health field as a psychiatrist or psychologist.
She spends her free time reading, playing video games, practicing the trombone and creating origami.
After her own experience being bullied, Annie makes an effort to befriend what she terms the class "outlier."
"Sometimes their supposed reputation is nothing but a lie, and judging a book from its cover could possibly be preventing you from getting to know its content and character," she said in an email.
What advice does Annie have for other students in a similar situation?
"To find and achieve peace you must use peace itself," she said. "Most times bad outcomes come from bad actions. Also, no matter what others say, you are worth something."
"Don't tell yourself otherwise because the moment you do is the moment you are letting their negative thoughts tarnish that worth," Annie said. "I want people to understand that peace cannot be awarded from violence."
Thank you to Buckets Blakes of the Harlem Globetrotters for the heartfelt op-ed published on The Hill.Read the full article here.
Help Stop the Violence!
All across America, students are rising to the challenge of doing something to end youth violence. The Do the Write Thing Challenge gives middle school students an opportunity to examine the impact of youth violence on their lives. Through classroom discussions and writings, students communicate what they think should be done to reduce youth violence. In addition, they make personal commitments to do something about this problem.
By emphasizing personal responsibility, the DtWT program also educates adults about the causes of youth violence. Local community groups promote the program at the grassroots level so that teachers, school administrators, parents, coaches, and young people can bring youth violence into the open, where it can be examined and talked about in a constructive way. When students accept the Challenge, they become messengers for their own thoughts and ideas, which are ultimately more powerful than violence. We say to students, “Accept the Do the Write Thing Challenge. Who knows where it will lead?”
To that end, DtWT also encourages the formation of groups called Community Peace Partnerships that work with local government, business and community leaders to provide opportunities such as job training internships, mentoring and academic scholarships for students who have participated in the program.
National Campaign to Stop Violence
2021 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036