Anti-bullying forums held at local schools

Forums part of National Bullying Prevention Month

SAN DIEGO - As part of National Bullying Prevention Month, the U.S. Attorney's Office held assemblies at local schools Friday to get the word out.

On Friday, at Horace Mann Middle School, students had the chance to hear and talk about bullying.

As part of a contest sponsored by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, San Diego students were invited to write essays about their own experiences with bullying.

One teen wrote, "I didn't even do anything. Why does everyone have to be so mean to me?"

Another wrote that every day she would decide "to not be myself because myself wasn't good enough."

A recent study found that nearly one in three middle and high school students is bullied, and experts said every day, up to 160,000 children nationwide stay home from school to avoid being bullied.  

Horace Mann Middle School Principal Courtney Young said they deal with some sort of bullying incident several times a month.

"Bullying has become very severe and it affects students' self esteem," said Young.

Statistics show on the playground a child is bullied every seven minutes.

"We want them to realize the impact of bullying, especially now with social media and texting," said Young.

Statistics also show 97 percent of middle school students are bullied online.

Many students said they know they're the first line of defense because they are the ones to see or experience bullying.

"If you're in a bully situation, you just walk away and go tell a grownup," said sixth-grader Dong Pham.

"People should stop bullying because it's hurting other people," said fellow sixth-grader Ashley Delacorre.

Young said intervention is key.

"We're able to get the students to see the other person's side and soon they realize that they're more alike than not," said Young.

Experts said it will take more than students and teachers to end bullying, and parents and the entire community need to play a bigger role in fixing the problems.

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