Students take part in national anti-bullying movement

HANAHAN, SC (WCSC) – Bullying, name calling and teasing, they are all issues students say they are dealing with every day, and it's only the start of the school year.

Now there's a movement at Hanahan Middle School to prevent bullying and replace it with kindness and compassion.

"Over texts and over messages we can say horrible things, and really regret them, they can really affect friendships," 8th grader Rachel Rysso said.

"I know some of the stuff that goes on. It's not bad. Not the worst things going on here but it's not great either," 7th grader Azeel Womble said.

Students from 5th to 8th grade took part in a one-of-a-kind seminar to help lead an anti-bullying movement at the school, known as "Rachel's Challenge." It included a speaker, videos, personal stories about how a little kindness or compassion goes a long way. Students are now signing on to the pledge. The program is in place at schools across the country, named for Rachel Scott, who was the first student who was killed in the Columbine Shooting in 1999.

"We've touched 15 million hearts since Columbine, just by sharing her story. Lives have been changed just off her story," Rachel's Challenge speaker Kendall Clark said.

School leaders hope the program will be a great and positive start for the new school year.

"Not even just anti-bullying but just the random acts of kindness that they talk about. We know our students here at Hanahan Middle School will start that chain reaction," school counseling director Christine Rogers said.

"I hope to prevent bullying in the school and share it with my friends," 7th grader Hannah Rogers said.

"If we start now we can keep many kids from going to jail or not having jobs," 8th grader Julie Rowland said.

Students also learned how websites like Facebook and Twitter play a part in student bullying. Leaders from Rachel's Challenge told the students to send positive messages to others on Facebook, especially those students who are considered the bullies.

The school also invited parents and other community members to hear about the anti-bullying movement at the school. The school will continue the "Friends of Rachel" or "FOR Club" all year long to help prevent bullying.

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