STOP BULLYING PROGRAM HELPS
TEENS THWART BULLYING SITUATIONS By
A group of students attending a summer camp in
Michigan learned some unusual skills. They found out how to stop
bullying behavior, including their own.
They are among a growing number of teens who are learning to be
part of the solution to bullying by forming Stop Bullying Task
Forces. The teen task force approach was developed by Hey U.G.L.Y.
(Unique, Gifted, Lovable You). The nonprofit organization is
dedicated to empowering young people ages 9 to 19 to counter issues
such as bullying through self-esteem building programs.
Dalia Vitkus, an MA in Criminal Justice and counselor for the
Lithuanian Sea Scouts works with 15- and 16-year-old girls. She
initiated Hey U.G.L.Y.'s Stop Bullying Task Force Program with her
group at summer camp and was amazed to see how quickly the girls
were able to apply their new anti-bullying skills.
"There was a bullying situation occurring with the younger girls at
camp," explained Vitkus. "The 10- and 11-year-old girls were
picking on others, being mean and unfriendly. One of the young
girls was even brought to tears. My newly formed Stop Bullying Task
Force presented a one-hour session of what they had learned about
bullying to the young girls. The bullying stopped and they are now
able to help their peers see that bullying is not cool."
In another incident at camp, a Stop Bullying Task Force member
named Vicky stood up to some boys who were being disrespectful to
adult leaders, and his behavior was beginning to spread. According
to Vitkus, the boys, surprised that one of their peers was standing
up to them, listened to Vicky, changed their behavior, and everyone
was able to relax and enjoy the gathering.
"She was so excited to tell me how it worked," said Vitkus. "It was
something she had ownership of."
After completing Hey U.G.L.Y.'s three-hour Stop Bullying program,
Vicky said it taught her that everyone is different and that's
okay. She is more aware of not using her first impressions to judge
"How we differentiate ourselves among others is really the way we
connect," Vicky said. "All of our unique qualities are what bring
us together, and makes us friends in the end."
Vicky said her Hey U.G.L.Y. Stop Bullying Task Force talked to the
younger girls about how they were all sisters and needed to respect
each other. They taught the younger girls about the importance of
teamwork and kindness in a group.
"After playing some fun team building games, you could see a
massive improvement with the girls' attitudes towards one another,"
Vitkus' task force, who named themselves "Keepers of the Baltic"
and all other task forces who complete Hey U.G.L.Y's program become
certified to teach younger kids and conduct stop bullying
presentations. They also receive a copy of the Stop Bullying
Handbook, a T-shirt, certificate and office Stop Bullying
Betty Hoeffner, co-founder and president of Hey, U.G.L.Y.,
partnered with students and teachers to create the "Hey, Stop
Bullying Emotional Learning Activity Plan (ELAP) that Vitkus used
to facilitate the training. Hoeffner and her founding task force
created National Stop Bullying Day which is celebrated annually on
the second Wednesday of February according to Chases Calendar of
The easy-to-use and quickly assimilated program was designed to
give teens a voice against bullying. It's been successful because
students teach each other how to stop bullying and give each other
courage to be part of the solution.
"The teens empower themselves to take action against bullies,
whether they are the victim or they see someone else being
victimized," said Hoeffner who is the author of theStop
Bullying Handbook-A Guide for Students and Their Friends. "They
also are able to curb their own bullying and self-bullying
behaviors while learning what to do if they see bullying happen to
"According to parenting expert, Dr. Michele Bora, "On a school
campus we know there's about 85% of kids we call bystanders.
They're the missing link, the silent majority."
Hoeffner wants to mobilize the Bullying Bystanders by uniting them
Bullying among kids is nothing new, but Hoeffner said it has grown
into one of the most critical issues facing students at all grade
levels throughout the nation. She cites a CDC report that shows
864,000 students staying home one day a month because they fear for
their safety. Another national survey of students in grades 6-10
shows 13 percent reported bullying others and 11 percent reported
being the target of bullies.
Bullying can take the form of name calling, pushing, and dirty
looks, fighting and spreading rumors. Experts say the facts are
troubling, because bullying too often leads to violence, loss of
self-esteem, depression and even suicide.
No one understands the critical need to stop bullying more than
Hoeffner who almost lost a teen to suicide.
"Not only are the bullied suffering, but also the bullies,"
explained Hoeffner. We designed our program to help both
self-discover ways to feel good about themselves and each other."
"I believe that by providing kids the opportunity to experience the
Hey U.G.L.Y. Stop Bullying Program, they can be empowered to
respect others and make better choices," noted Vitkus. "This
program can work as a tool to prevent kids from seeking crime and
becoming entangled within the Juvenile Criminal Justice System. I
really see it spreading. The more task forces there are, the more
the older kids will share with those younger."