Fighting bullying early on


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How do you stop bullying in schools? Just ask the experts:

“I would tell them to stop because it’s hurting other people’s feelings,” said second-grader Diego Mendoza.

And what if a kid you know is being bullied?

“If you’re bullied, just ignore whoever is bullying you and don’t pay attention to them,” expressed 7-year-old Evan Lucio. “Be proud of who you are,” added Monse Pineda. “And you always need to believe in yourself,” concluded Aliyah Rodriguez.

Bullying is a serious issue, and the fight against it should be serious too. It’s good to know that someone is starting early.  The KIPP Explore Academy in Houston’s East End is the first school in Texas to launch the new anti-bullying program from Chicken Soup for the Soul, called “Hallway Heroes.”

“At KIPP it’s really important to us that we’re teaching our kids about character and building their character,” explained Frank Cush, KIPP Explore Academy’s founder and principal. “With this program, the students are learning about what are the things that they should be doing.  Not necessarily in the situation where they face a bully, but it’s about being more proactive, learning how to be good citizens. We’re also encouraging our students to know more about themselves and what makes them unique.”

That’s probably the key: real strength comes from within. To learn that and many other things, these kids are using the book “Be The Best You Can Be.” Houston philanthropist Dr. Milton Boniuk is funding the program, and is happy to see these children grow wiser and wiser.

“We need to continue to do these things not only in this country but all around the world,” he exclaimed after witnessing one of the workshops. “Especially if we want a better world, a more peaceful and more tolerant society. People should learn to have universal respect for everybody: to treat everybody with respect even if you don’t like them.”

The message is clear, and it looks like it’s sticking: “I would say (to kids who are being bullied): be proud of yourself,” suggested Monse Pineda; “and if they say mean things about you, just think about the opposite, the opposite meanings of those words.”

Bullies, we have you surrounded!