East Central HS’ Project Has Raised Cyberbullying Awareness
By Mike Perleberg
(St. Leon, Ind.) – Three years ago, a few East Central High School students saw an emerging problem in their school: cyberbullying.
“We knew it was becoming a big issue. Cyberbullying was happening in our schools and schools around us. People were taking it to a whole new level. We decided we wanted to start making an impact as soon as possible,” said Laura Kuebel.
Then Kuebel, Lauren Deddens and Sarah Lehman did something about it. Under the umbrella of the school’s FCCLA – Family, Career and Community Leaders of America – club, the students began the Cyberbully Busters. The project has won national recognition from the FCCLA.
Their effort informs classmates about how to recognize cyberbullying and how they can put a stop to it, whether the individual is the object of bullying or witness somebody else being victimized.
Deddens said the group has spoken with students at East Central, other schools, and parents about the problem which can start as soon as age 7. Many parents of children that age or older may be unaware of the problem or how to address it, because they grew up in a pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter era.
“It can start as just a joke. Whoever is bullying thinks it’s just funny, but the person being bullied doesn’t think so,” Deddens said. “We really enforce to (kids) to not bully back, but to take action and tell an adult to help stop it.”
The group presented Cyberbully Busters at an FCCLA national conference in Charlotte, N.C. last fall. Lehman said the experience made all the years of work worthwhile.
“We got a lot of feedback about it. After each session people came up to us and started telling us their personal stories how they were affected or knew someone who was affected. People said ‘Thank you for telling us and thank you for informing us on what to do,’” Kuebel said.
Not only has Cyberbully Busters paid off for would-be victims. The trio has seen benefits as well.
“I’ve learned a lot more about cyberbullying that I never knew,” Lehman added. “I’ve also gotten the feeling of helping out my community, which is awesome.”
The three senior students are hopeful that underclassmen at East Central will continue the anti-bullying project. East Central High School’s FCCLA chapter has over 200 members and welcomes all students to join. The chapter’s website is www.eastcentralfccla.org and they are on Facebook.
“There’s definitely a lot more people who are aware (of cyberbullying) now. That’s what we were aiming for,” Deddens said.