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Banding against bullies

Posted: Friday, Nov 23rd, 2012

Alamosa Elementary fourth grader Isabella Griffin is standing up to bullies through her own program, Be a Buddy, Not a Bully.

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — Isabella Griffin is taking a stand against bullying, and she is not alone.

Before the end of the year, Griffin, an Alamosa Elementary (AE) fourth grader, hopes to have over 1,000 of her classmates join Be a Buddy, Not a Bully, which is program of her own design.

After a group of girls bullied Griffin for her clothing and not having today’s most popular electronics, she decided she is no one’s victim.

Then, after watching a special needs student exposed to the same unsavory behavior, she decided no one should be a victim, and it was her responsibility to make sure it didn’t happen again.

“He was getting picked on because he has something wrong with him,” said Griffin, who was featured on 9News earlier this week. “A lot of people think that he is weird. They think they are better than him and can make fun of him. I wanted to help him and make sure that he knew that he wasn’t alone and he was fine, a good person and should be who he is.”

Griffin has drafted an anti-bullying pledge for her fellow Mini Moose to sign, and is anxiously waiting for the purple and blue colored wristbands that they will wear to signify their commitment to a safe and accepting learning environment.

“I was thinking of a symbol that could help our students be aware that they are a buddy, not a bully and I came up with the band idea,” Griffin said. “If the majority of the students at our school that are not bullies are wearing those bands, the bullies will be outnumbered and they will know that they are outnumbered.”

When she first came up with idea to launch the anti-bullying campaign, she went to her father, Jon, and together they brought the idea to the AE administration. Her principals gave her 100 percent of their support, especially after Griffin shared her research on the current state of bullying.

“I have learned that about 10 percent of kids bully, about two percent are being bullied and the rest of the 80 percent is just standing by and watching,” Griffin said. “This program helps those 80 percent of kids get the courage to step in if they see someone being bullied. They can tell them to stop it or walk their classmate away from the situation.”

Encouraging students from kindergarten on up to take control of bullying is one factor in mitigating the nationally growing problem.

“Kids try to handle bullying on their own, but they’re not sure if it is tattling,” explained AE Assistant Principal Christy McBee. “We need help from kids like Isabella. It’s the underlying stuff we don’t know about. Isabella has her kid magic and she can understand. We take every opportunity we can provide to have kids like her in leadership roles.”

Griffin added that parents are also important in the fight against bullies.

“Parents should reassure their children that they are not alone and that they shouldn’t listen to the bully,” she said. “If they find out their child is bullying, then they can talk to them about how bullying hurts other people’s feelings and how they can make their child feel better. Sometimes a bully is jealous of what others have. Sometimes they bully because they think it is fun.”

Once Be a Buddy, Not a Bully is in full swing, Griffin is optimistic bullying will decrease both in her school and possibly elsewhere in the Valley. It is rumored that the Monte Vista School District wants to bring her over to share the program with her Pirate peers.

“I am very happy about that,” Griffin said. “I want to stop bullying from happening in our schools because it is a really big issue.”

Last school year, Monte Vista High School hosted a Day Without Hate that addressed bullying, harassment and violence.

In addition, last spring The Colorado Legacy Foundation recognized the Center Consolidated School District with a $3,000 award for its bullying prevention program.

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