Posted on October 31, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Wednesday, Oct 31 at 2:47 PM
AUSTIN -- Hundreds of Austin middle school students are standing up against bullies.
The students gathered at the State Capitol Wednesday morning for the No Place for Hate Youth Summit. An estimated 200 students are expected on the first day of the two-day summit. Another 200 are expected on Thursday. All of the students participating in the summit are 7th and 8th graders from across the Austin area.
“I wanted to be here because I’ve been made fun of myself and I didn’t like it and I didn’t want anyone else to go through that,” said 7th grader Mya Maldonado. “It takes an emotional toll.”
After checking in, the students mingled in the auditorium, practicing an exercise to get to know each other. They're bonded by bullying.
“One day my friend, she got called fat because she's just a little bit larger and she didn't go to school for two days,” said 7th grader Allison Greves.
Some of the students are victims of bullying. Others admit they've been the bully. It's a problem that they say plagues school hallways every day.
“There's name calling, there's pushing, there's shoving, there's just talking bad about somebody, there's gossiping,” said 7th grader Kaela Stevens.
The students will participate in a series of exercises designed to help them learn how to stop bullying and how to support victims of bullying.
“The more people hear about it, the more they kind of want to stand up for it and then the more people stop bullying,” said Maldonado.
Fifty-six different schools are taking part in the two-day summit from 12 different districts including:
- Austin ISD
- Dripping Springs ISD
- Eanes ISD
- Florence ISD
- Georgetown ISD
- Hays Consolidated ISD
- Johnson City ISD
- Lake Travis ISD
- Leander ISD
- Manor ISD
- Pflugerville ISD
- Round Rock ISD
Nearly half a dozen private campuses are also involved including:
- Austin Jewish Academy
- St Andrew’s Episcopal
- St Gabriel’s Catholic
- St Stephen’s Episcopal
- Trinity Episcopal
All of the schools attending have already passed requirements to become a No Place for Hate campus. That means there are programs on campus to combat bullying. The schools earn the designation by having participants sign the Resolution of Respect, creating a coalition and completing at least three anti-bias activities and documenting those activities.
The summit continues through Thursday afternoon. It’s sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. State Senator Kirk Watson addressed the students with opening remarks Wednesday morning.