Starkville High School student Kaehla Outlaw is having fun with classmates on Friday, attending the Kids Count Summit in Jackson. But earlier this school year, Outlaw wasn't so happy.
Another female student began bullying her over a boy.
"She sent me text messages, calling me names. She sent me a lot of online stuff," Outlaw says. "She made several Facebook statuses about me, about the way I dress."
But two years ago, Outlaw had been betrayed by a teacher she had confided in, so she avoided confiding in an adult this time. The bullying eventually died down by itself.
"I think you listen," Outlaw says regarding adults and their role in such situations. "If it's serious enough, take action, but if it's not, then just let them confide in you."
Communication is key in preventing bullying, and that's what school faculty members and other adults are learning at the summit, at Christ United Methodist Church.
Merve Lapus of Common Sense Media told the crowd that kids and adults can become what he calls "upstanders".
"Most kids stand by, they don't want to get in the middle of it, don't want to be part of it, worried about the bully going up to them. How do you create a communication where educators can be upstanders," he says.
Noah Robertson has done it. The Tishomingo County High School student created an anti-bullying program as part of an eagle scout project. He was inspired by a friend.
"He was autistic. People took that to their advantage, bullied him over it," Robertson says. "In the middle school, which is where the project was, I had these boxes where people could drop letters in saying who bullied. That's what the main concept is, reporting it through the administration instead of it continuously evolving."
Robertson says the program has been a success.
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