By Stan Maddux
- Times Correspondent
March 4, 2010
LAPORTE | About 2,000 students in LaPorte took a stand
against bullying Wednesday by signing a football field-sized
banner that will be sent to Chicago and other parts of the
The goal is to have the 100-pound banner, signed later
Wednesday afternoon by students at St. Stanislaus School in
Michigan City, on display at the White House.
"We're looking for other states to come on board with the stop
bullying program," said Betty Hoeffner, founder of Hey UGLY --
Unique Gifted Loveable You.
Hey UGLY is a Rolling Prairie-based group that reaches
nationwide to empower children to feel good about themselves
despite bullying, name-calling and other forms of abuse.
"We're also getting contacted by children in China, Spain,
Portugal, Canada, England and New Zealand recently," Hoeffner
Unkind remarks about a child's weight and other forms of abuse
can mark victims with lifelong emotional scars and be a factor
in victims becoming bullies themselves as adults.
Hoeffner said a child's self-esteem being lowered by harsh
words is a problem worsened today because of the Internet, text
messaging and other new methods of communicating.
In schools, the Hey UGLY program emphasizes instructing
students to replace negative thoughts and statements about
themselves and others into something positive.
Books are distributed to students with instructions on how not
to become a bully and how to respond when seeing others being
Following a 45-minute program in the gymnasium, Blake Curtis,
16, a LaPorte High School sophomore, said he hopes the
name-calling, pushing and other forms of bullying are reduced.
Curtis said while he signed the banner, he thought about the
number of kids who are being bullied right now and how he was
Hoeffner said statistics from the Centers for Disease Control
show almost 870,000 students nationwide every month stay home
at least once a week because of fears about their safety.
She said a bullied child can result in bullying as an adult and
in relationships at home and work.