HOPE Club spreads word on bullying, suicide prevention

Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gallery (click any photo to view the gallery)
Tates Creek sophomores Becca Kargel (left) and Morgan Ehrmantraut shared cyberbullying statistics with sixth-graders at Southern Middle. The high school's HOPE Club has steadily gained momentum, expanding from about two dozen to upwards of 70 members. “It’s a tight-knit group that was really affected by the deaths (last year),” said club sponsor Megan Majors, a guidance counselor at Tates Creek.

Tates Creek sophomores Becca Kargel (left) and Morgan Ehrmantraut shared cyberbullying statistics with sixth-graders at Southern Middle. The high school's HOPE Club has steadily gained momentum, expanding from about two dozen to upwards of 70 members. “It’s a tight-knit group that was really affected by the deaths (last year),” said club sponsor Megan Majors, a guidance counselor at Tates Creek.

Tates Creek sophomores Becca Kargel (left) and Morgan Ehrmantraut shared cyberbullying statistics with sixth-graders at Southern Middle. The high school's HOPE Club has steadily gained momentum, expanding from about two dozen to upwards of 70 members. “It’s a tight-knit group that was really affected by the deaths (last year),” said club sponsor Megan Majors, a guidance counselor at Tates Creek. As Becca hurled multiple cyber insults in the form of balloons, Morgan could no longer juggle them as her frustration grew.Krissy Goble (left) and McKenna Cummins talked about the different types of bullying -- physical, verbal and cyber -- and its lasting effects.Helena Jackson, a senior, shared some of the common warning signs of people contemplating suicide. "There's potential to prevent it," she said. Hannah Ross (left) and Helena Jackson encouraged the youngsters to get help for themselves and for others. "Tell an adult -- don't keep it to yourself," Helena advised.The Southern Middle students had listened attentively and knew the answers as HOPE Club members reviewed several key points. P.E./wellness teacher Lisa Hager (standing at far left) urged them to report bullying so the staff can take action. "It's very helpful when you guys let us know what's going on," she said. "You are the eyes and ears of the school."

Oct. 20-26: Kentucky Safe Schools Week

The HOPE Club at Tates Creek High School wants students to recognize the harmful effects of bullying and the warning signs of suicide so they can speak up and step in to make a difference in someone’s life.

“This can be prevented. It doesn’t have to end in another statistic,” said senior Krissy Goble, one of the founding members of HOPE (Helping Other People Every day).

Last year, a group of Tates Creek juniors formed the club after three student deaths within a week-and-a-half span, including a suicide. The club shares factual, relevant information about thorny social issues teenagers face, and members lead interactive presentations at the middle schools feeding into Tates Creek.  Among their points:

  • Every seven minutes, someone is bullied;
  • 72 percent of bullying victims never report it;
  • Suicide is the 11th-leading cause of death in the United States.

“When you’re joking around, there’s a certain line you cross with each person. If you hurt their feelings, it’s bullying,” Krissy explained. “The stats make it real when cold, hard numbers are in front of them.”

A half-dozen club members visited Southern Middle School one recent Tuesday to talk with students starting a mental health unit in their P.E./wellness class. With the youngsters split into three rotating groups, the high schoolers worked in pairs to cover some basics of bullying (physical and verbal), cyberbullying and suicide prevention. They came prepared, having been trained by professionals with the Kentucky Department of Education.

In one exercise, Krissy and classmate McKenna Cummins asked the youngsters to bend, fold and crumple sheets of colored paper and then try to press them out smooth again. The kids got the point.

“Nobody’s ever the same (after bullying),” Krissy said, adding, “It’s easier to try to prevent it than deal with it afterwards.”  

Across the room, sophomores Becca Kargel and Morgan Ehrmantraut quizzed a handful of Southern students on cyberbullying, why it’s more prevalent these days and how its impact can be long-lasting. To illustrate, Becca hurled repeated social-media insults in the form of balloons, and Morgan juggled them in vain until she felt overwhelmed and defeated.

In the third group, senior Helena Jackson and junior Hannah Ross spoke about how bullying victims sometimes resort to suicide, and they reviewed common warning signs such as depression, anger, drug use and risk taking. In one example, somebody considering suicide might give away his laptop, believing he won’t need it anymore.

The teens urged the youngsters to seek help for themselves and for others. As Helena said, if the HOPE Club reaches even one beleaguered student, their efforts are worthwhile.

“It really hurts in middle school. And when people are bullied as a child, it changes who they turn out to be,” Helena said. The bottom line? “Tell an adult – don’t keep it to yourself.”

Club members will speak next at Tates Creek Middle School in November. Guidance counselor Megan Majors, the group’s sponsor, praised those leading the outreach efforts. “They came up with the content and activities, so they had to think of how to be serious and relevant at the same time,” she said.

The HOPE Club is also active within Tates Creek High School. During October, members encouraged fellow students to sign a blue-ribbon pledge to take a stand against bullying, and teachers will recognize students for good citizenship if they go above and beyond to show kindness. In addition, the club is behind a series of parent meetings on teens and mental illness (September), substance abuse (October) and suicide prevention (November).

Did you know?

October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.

Resources

Safe Schools Office (FCPS)

Kentucky Center for School Safety

Stop Bullying Now national campaign

 

 


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