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September 2012 magazine


What you can do 

Students can do a lot about bullying, Vaughan says. Developing a culture of openness among peers and adults can help. “It’s important to talk about bullying and the consequences,” she says. Young people can get involved in prevention efforts too. 

Also, know what groups might be a greater risk. Many minorities—such as lesbian or gay people—are at greater risk for bullying. But those teens report feeling safer and more accepted in schools with gay-straight alliances. That’s just one example of a program that can help. Students can have a powerful impact if they consider ideas tailored to their own communities. One of Vaughan’s favorite resources for teens is, which is full of good ideas. 

Key Club members can be particularly effective when it comes to dealing with the bullying problem, Gibson says. In fact, he sought members’ help at the convention to create an anti-bullying initiative. 

Kids—especially Key Club members, who are already leaders—can set an example by sticking up for those bullied and setting a personal standard that they will not accept bullying. “I think teens should lead by example, report bullying when it happens and hold strong to their convictions, even when those convictions are unpopular,” Gibson says. 

“One idea was a network television partnership and teenfocused programming to promote Key Club’s efforts to create a teen-designed, national anti-bullying campaign—exciting things to come!” 

Look who’s talking 

It’s no surprise that celebrities have influence when it comes to social change. Some use that power for good. Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation works to empower youth and inspire bravery. Its website,, is a place where people can share stories and discover great ideas to change the culture through student action. 

Here’s one idea, from the “Kinder & Braver World Project”: Create a “friend zone” in the lunch room. Establish a group of students who are willing to watch over other students. Publicize the friend zone during every lunch period, and make sure at least two members of the friend-zone group are sitting at a table with space for anyone who wants to sit there. It could be someone who just needs someone to sit with, a new kid or someone feeling marginalized or threatened. Make it clear that the group doesn’t require anyone to be friends with anyone. The friend zone is just a safe space for people, a place of respect and no judgment. 

Some people become celebrities when they step up and fight. Emily Anne Rigal was a high school student when she created a YouTube channel called We Stop Hate. Now the well-known channel is a place for kids to get motivated, connect, share stories and strategies, and stamp out cruelty, hate and bullying. Bullies thrive on those who feel alone and weak and marginalized. You and your Key Club can work to help end bullying forever. “Key Clubbers are an army,” Gibson says. “Together, you can win the fight against bullying.”  KC

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