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LETTER: Spreading the word can stop bullying

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To the Editor:

Bullying.

When people hear that word, they think of someone being teased or made fun of. When I hear it, I think of eighth grade. I still don't completely understand what prompted the events of those five months, but of the several girls that were manipulated into becoming part of this clique, one girl in particular took the role as ringleader.

This girl was relentless in her attempts to tear me down: She would call me and harass me with threats and text messages that were graphic in nature, and went as far as threatening my little brother at the park.

I knew I couldn't give up; I needed to fight on. With the love and support of my friends and family, I did. We filed police reports with all of the supporting text messages and cell phone call logs, and on June 6, 2011, we were granted the first-ever juvenile protection order in Lake County on mine and my brother's behalf. Today, I look back and I am so thankful that God was watching over me and protected me from hurting myself so that I can be here today as an advocate against bullying.

My goal is to share my story so parents everywhere are aware of how big a problem bullying is and so kids can feel comfortable talking to their parents. I know being a teen, it's hard to accept that your parents are your best support system. In my situation, my parents were there for me no matter what, and I'm sure that's the case for you, too.

My advice to parents is to be understanding. I know when I first started trying to tell my mom how bad it was getting, she didn't want to believe me. She thought I was being dramatic.

That's when kids start to feel like there isn't anywhere left to turn. Listen to what your kids have to say, help them to get through it and encourage them to talk to a school counselor. Talking about it and getting the word out is the best way to stop bullying.

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