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October 17, 2013

DMS students take anti-bully stance

DUNCAN — An assembly Wednesday at Duncan Middle School ended with the school’s students chanting “I will stand.”

That stance was one against bullying — any act of violence toward their peers. It was a stance to stand up for someone, even themselves, if a bully situation occurred. There was a realization that every day is a new day, an opportunity to change.

“Bullying is a learned behavior,” Kraig Ramsey, Ray of Hope youth minister, told middle school students during the assembly. “They do it for two reasons: Either it’s the atmosphere they’ve grown up in or they have been bullied. They are afraid. They try to put it off on someone else.”

Ramsey talked to the students about his experiences being bullied. He said he tried to change himself to fit in, but the bullying continued. It wasn’t until he got to college that he found people who were like him, people could appreciate him for who he is.

He said changing himself to fit in is one of his biggest regrets.

“Continue to live your life,” Ramsey said. “Don’t just try to fit in. There are other people just like you.”

Tony Cudjo, a personal trainer at the Simmons Center, was another guest speaker for the event. Cudjo was another bully victim.

He said among his greatest mistakes was staying silent instead of telling someone he needed help. His second mistake was resorting to violence to stand his ground. By acting in violence, he drew the attention of other bullies.

“Violence begets violence,” Cudjo said.

Cudjo said the outcome of any bully situation is the result of what people choose to do. He said people should stand for those being bullied and pull them out of those situations.

“When you see someone being bullied and do not intervene, you are as bad as the bullier,” he said.

He said people can change to help others, to stop being bullies. But the decision is one they have to make. He said the decisions people make on a daily basis define who those people are.

“It’s a new day,” Cudjo said. “You don’t have to be who you were yesterday. This is an opportunity to change. Your words, your actions and your behaviors are bricks. Are you going to build walls between you and other people or are you going to be a bridge between you an other people? I’d want to be a bridge builder.”

Throughout the week, the middle school announcements have contained bullying statistics to better inform students about the severity of bullying. Every seven minutes, a student is bullied.

DMS Principal Dewey Ivey said now is the best time to take a stand against bullying or else students could be left open to bullies the rest of their lives. Ivey said students shouldn’t be afraid to report bullying to adults, including teachers and parents.

“Bullying isn’t something that just happens in school,” Ivey said. “We want that to stop. I can’t read your mind. If you’re being bullied, we need to know.”

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