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Bullying: Teens take the lead as anti-bullying mentors, advocates

Bullying prevention starts with teens, and in communities around the country they are taking the lead as anti-bullying leaders, advocates, and mentors for their peers. It is an inspiring trend at a time when several high-profile teen suicides have been linked to bullying.

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Now the Sandia High School club’s Facebook group has 363 members and support from alumni now attending the University of New Mexico. Torin told KOAT TV that they aim to have clubs in all 13 Albuquerque high schools by the beginning of next school year. As in the Lisbon, Iowa, school, this movement, as Torin called it, includes high school students teaching and mentoring younger students.

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And the stories are multiplying!

Then there’s freshman Aidan McDaniel and friends’ “friend zone” at his school in West Virginia, a safe place in the cafeteria where students who don’t at the moment or yet have friends to sit with can eat lunch in peace, with fellow students who care.

Both Torin and Aidan participated in the launch symposium of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society this past February, advising us adults on grassroots (student) action. And of course there were the two upperclassmen in a Nova Scotia, Canada, high school who several years ago went to bat for a younger student who was being harassed for wearing a pink shirt. They wore pink shirts to school in solidarity and started a movement that spread nationwide – and now Canada has a Pink Shirt Day.

For many more examples of young activists, change agents, and heroes, check out Sprigeo’s Heroes Project.

There are so many things about these social-good projects to celebrate, including that young people aren’t waiting around for adults to end bullying and social aggression, are taking positive, supportive action in diverse ways that are meaningful to them, are showing a remarkable level of commitment to solving social aggression problem. And they instinctively get what the research says: that the solution is not punishing individuals but changing the community’s culture.And finally, they're creating that school climate through a collective, whole-school approach.

They are modeling the respect they so deserve!

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Anne Collier blogs at NetFamilyNews.

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