Students Take a Stand Against Bullying at One Cumberland School

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VINELAND, N.J. -

A group of students at the Vineland Public Charter School are using their voices and stories to come together and form a new way of protecting their peers. It’s called the Anti-Bullying Club and it's the first of its kind in Cumberland County.

The reasons behind the courage to take a stand are personal.

“I was bullied [because] I’m obese," said Natalie Parkhill, eighth grader, Vineland Public Charter School.

“Last year, I was both bullied by students and a teacher," said Dakota Runkle, another eighth grader at the school.

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“I always get upset if someone says something bad about me," said Joseph Ansara, seventh grader at the school. 

“When I was younger, I was bullied a lot because I was skinny," said Jarryn Barber, Anti-Bullying Club member.

“It’s difficult hearing these stories because these kids are my kids and I love them," said Rachel Sanders, teacher and Anti-Bully Club advisor. "I tell them all the time, my momma bear claws come out. And it’s our job as teachers and educators to protect these students.”

“I feel like nobody should be scared to come to school because you’re going to be bullied," said Rebecca Cain, sixth grader, Vineland Public Charter School.

Students believe that this club will help kids at their school and beyond know that they’re not alone, and that there will always be somebody there for them to go to.

“I want to help them out and make sure they’re safe," said Ansara.

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“It’s [the] things that you struggle on the inside with — [that's] the silent killer," said Parkhill. "And you never know what the kid is going through. So, just one little talk, or a speech to them, and [becoming] their friend could really help them out in a way that you will never even know.”

With the help of their advisor and principal, the club members are learning how to handle bullying within their hallways and schoolyard, but it doesn’t stop there.

I feel like nobody should be scared to come to school because you’re going to be bullied.

Even after a student steps through the school's doors, and heads home for the day, that doesn’t necessarily mean the bullying stops. They can bring it home with them through their cell phones and other technology.

To combat this, they have one important message.

“Reporting is not tattle tailing," said Barber.

The Anti-Bullying Club is funded by a nonprofit called Teach Anti Bullying, Inc., which was also created by the school’s principal, Dr. Claudio Cerullo.

“I hope that other schools take suit and it becomes a model for other schools because ultimately that’s how you start to reduce any pervasive public issue," said Cerullo. "You tackle it one step at a time and bring a smile back to a student, one student at a time.”

For more information go to teachantibullying.org.

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