Lacy Alexander, 10, listened to her fourth-grade teacher talk about bullying during social studies class one day and got an idea.
“I wanted to prevent bullying,” Lacy said. “I made a poster and put it up in the library. I just decided on my own to tell people not to bully.”
She shared her personal story of being bullied on the poster.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of stories from third grade,” she said.
Some students repeatedly tried to hit her and trip her, she said. Then some little boys did something inappropriate.
“I didn’t like that,” Lacy said.
She intends to start an anti-bullying club next year.
Many children and teenagers in Galveston County are talking about bullying.
One of them is David Mejia, who is valedictorian of the Class of 2017 at O’Connell College Preparatory School in Galveston. He graduated Thursday.
One of the clubs he belonged to at O’Connell was an anti-bullying group.
“If you see something happen, take action,” he said.
Some boys were playing basketball at school and things got a little out of hand, Mejia said. “It wasn’t cool,” he said. Someone approached the aggressor in the gym and told him to “chill out,” Mejia said.
Parents play a part, too, he said.
“I don’t think parents understand a Twitter fight,” Mejia said. “Or subtweeting.”
People direct attacks at others on the social media site and app, or they can be more passive-aggressive by subtweeting, which is the art of not mentioning names but giving enough details that anyone who was present would know exactly whom the insult was aimed at.
It can get vicious, Mejia said.
Students at Victory Lakes Intermediate School have learned about not leaving their digital footprints behind. The school is in the Clear Creek Independent School District, which incorporates social media awareness as part of its anti-bullying efforts.
“If you hurt my friends with your comments, I’ll direct message you and say, ‘That’s not cool,’” Gabby Daughenbaugh, 13, said. “I’ll tell my friends, ‘Hey, they’re being stupid.’”
Her eighth-grade classmate, Emily McNeal, 14, has straightforward advice for anyone who gets a text from a cyberbully.
“First, confront them, and if it keeps happening, tell someone,” Emily said.
A couple of students that go to their school had an argument, and one of them took a screen shot of part of the conversation and shared it, Gabby said. That led to direct messages and a chain of drama.
“It’s so silly how kids get when they can’t express themselves,” Gabby said.
She’s talked to her mother about what happens on cellphones, and her mom joked that students just had fist fights back in her day.
“We have fist fights on the internet,” Gabby said. “Parents don’t understand social media.”
Users can create accounts with fake names on many apps and websites. Instagram and Snapchat are two apps that making eighth grade especially painful at Victory Lakes.
“Snapchat is worse because the messages go away,” Emily said. Adults advised her take a screenshot of an offending post because in 20 seconds it can be gone. But there’s something the well-meaning adults didn’t understand about Snapchat cyberbullies.
“They get notifications when you take a screen shot,” Emily said.
Emily offered advice for parents.
“If your kids are acting differently, if they are sad and upset, know something is wrong,” Emily said. “Check their social media.”
It seems like the students who get bullied stand out or don’t fit in with the crowd, Marc Gallardo, 14, said. He’s also in the eighth-grade at Victory Lakes.
“Usually, it’s more behind their back,” Marc said. “I stay away from that. I think sometimes people don’t realize what they say. They think they are just kidding.”
His classmate Artis Galloway, 13, concurs.
“Most kids think they are just joking around when they are being mean,” Artis said. “If they hurt someone, they don’t know how to react. So, they make another joke.”
It’s usually students who don’t have enough confidence or maturity who act like that, Gabby said.
“The way stuff can get around is ridiculous,” she said.
Some students are scared to tell anyone that they are being bullied or getting threatening texts, Gabby said.
“It’s harder to talk about if you think it’s your fault,” she said. “But you have to try.”
Some parents don’t understand why students don’t tell them everything, Artis said.
“Sometimes, parents go overboard,” Artis said. “It’s like, ‘No, Mom, don’t!’”
Emily feels safe at school, she said. The teachers and staff are open and friendly, and students can trust them. Students should also learn the basic concepts of being nice, she said.
“If you learn to be respectful when you are a kid, you will be a respectful adult,” she said.