“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. “
Those are familiar words that many kids will never forget -- but if you ask any of the kids at the Boys and Girls Club in Bryan -- they'll tell you a much different story.
“He calls me names every day like, I’m stupid and I’m ugly, said Virginia, a third grade student in Bryan.
“It’s really mean and sometimes they’ll just come up to you in the hallway and they’ll push you,” said one fourth grade student.
Bullying can happen anywhere at any time.
“It happens at school, at the park, but I’ve mostly seen it outside of school, “said 10-year-old Derickson.
These are the faces of local elementary school kids; and even till this day, they say bullying is something they see every day.
“It’s a group of girls, they’re mean to me,” added Virginia. “But my mommy told me to ignore them.”
“One time this guy gave me something and then he asked for it back, so I gave it back to him, then his sister got mad at me because I didn’t give it to her and so she started spreading rumors about me,” said Derickson. “And then she got her brother to start saying stuff about me. It made me sad.”
Kristen Montgomery is trying to squash the un-welcoming, yet the potentially inevitable dimensions of bullying.
“A lot of it has to do with people not understanding how to deal with anger; and not respecting the fact that we are all different and what we are really trying to enforce to these kids it's okay to be unique,” Montgomery said. “We see a lot of boys bullying boys, girls bullying girls, and even some girls bullying boys, but Facebook and Myspace, and really the internet has changed the entire dynamic of bullying.”
Montgomery is an education and outreach specialist with the Sexual Assault Resource Center, or SARC. She says an overwhelming call for action has the local organization taking a physical approach to the growing issue.
“I’m going to be here at the Boys and Girls Club two days a week for the next six weeks. A lot of kids are trying to fit in with societal norms of male dominance, females needing to be submissive, and even the issues of kids feeling emotions such as anger. We want them to know it’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to be mean,” Montgomery explained. “We want to teach the kids early-on how to communicate what they’re feeling and most importantly, if they are being bullied, to tell someone.”
She hopes her message will call for a permanent cap on a bully’s capacity for cruelty.
"Stop bullying people because you won't have any friends,” said Derickson.
"It can lead to school problems and in worst case scenarios, even suicide,” Montgomery said.