HOPE Club spreads word on bullying, suicide prevention
Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
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.
Safe Schools Office (FCPS)