Bullying is a huge problem right now. Whether it’s verbally or physically, many kids are getting effected one way or another.
I went through it to some degree when I was in elementary school. I attended a small school, so there weren’t many choices for friends. I liked my school very much, and had a good relationship with my teachers, but some of the kids were really mean to me and it affected me deeply. I was excluded from games, playing at recess, and at lunch. Also, knowing that I loved to sing, they’d ask me to sing for them (and naively I’d do so) and then they’d make fun of me and run away. Many days, I came home crying, begging to be homeschooled. Each year, my parents would tell me that next year will surely be better because the kids would mature and grow out of it, but that never happened.
Luckily, outside of school, things were different for me. I was happy, easily got along with people and had some great friends. Also, I had interests and outlets – theater, singing, piano, dance and sports.
One day on the way to school, I believe it was in 4th grade, my dad said to me, “Nobody has the power to ruin your day.” After years of talking about this, that phrase finally hit home and I began to understand, and I started to find the strength to overcome the teasing.
But my school life transformed when I switched schools in 6th grade. I made some great friends and for the first time in my life, looked forward to going to school every day! There were times when I still doubted myself, or felt inadequate (and I know it was because of the damage caused in elementary school), but I have learned to move on and feel free.
I wrote “Butterfly” about my experience, and about finding the strength to rise above the teasing and the nasty behavior. Every time I sing Butterfly on stage, I tell the story behind the song. I hope that Butterfly will inspire other kids that have been knocked down, and that it will help give them the courage and the strength to rise up and to overcome whatever mistreatment or misfortune they have experienced.
I feel truly blessed to have had the love and support of my parents every step of the way, and I realize that not all kids are as fortunate. I am passionate about doing whatever I can to be a positive role model for kids, bring awareness about bullying, and make a difference.
I am proud to be a spokesperson for GWEN (Global Women’s Empowerment Network), ImBullyFree.org, Bullyville.com and PACER Teens Against Bullying, as well as being a Junior Board Member of The Alliance for Eating Disorders.
After watching “Butterfly”, share the discussion questions with your student audience.
Hi, my name is Lexi James and I am a country singer/songwriter from Maine. Middle school and high school can be such a hard time for so many kids. There is so much pressure to fit in and I spent way too much time pretending to be something I am not just so people would like me. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and I started to act like the real me. That didn’t go so well.
When my senior year was over, I was also the only one in my graduating class who didn’t go on to college. I decided to pursue a career in music instead and everyone had an opinion about that. People made me feel stupid and even the teachers took digs at me in front of my classmates. That summer my “friends” turned on me. They decided I was a fake and a hypocrite and whole bunch of other words I don’t care to repeat. They posted so many negative, hurtful things about me on the Internet even though I blocked them from my Facebook page. I wouldn’t wish this kind of cyberbullying on anyone.
The other thing you need to know about me is I have a slight stutter. The thought of having to speak in public has given me gut wrenching anxiety since I was 10. Even when people know I can’t help it some of them keep ridiculing me anyway and it hurts. When I was younger it really tore me down and made me feel so small but now I defend myself. So what if I stutter? It doesn’t define me. It’s part of who I am. I can’t control how other people react but I can definitely control how I react.
I think most kids can relate to my story and what I have been through. Who hasn’t been bullied at some point in their life? I wrote a song called “This Is My Time” to show other people that they aren’t alone, that they are not the only ones who feel this way. Just because people say horrible things about you doesn’t make it true.
I am so passionate about the work that PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center is doing. Whenever I see another story on the news about a kid who has taken their own life because they were bullied my heart just breaks. Nobody should be made to feel worthless. Everyone is unique and deserves to feel loved and accepted. I love how PACER raises awareness and encourages kids to share their stories. It’s great how they inspire kids to speak up for their peers and not just stand by and watch others get tortured and teased. PACER has done so much to prevent bullying and I want to do my part, too. I hope you’ll join me.
This Is My Time (mp3)
Your Story is Powerful
This past October, Michael and Marisa, two inspirational spokespersons for PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, hosted the “Your Story is Powerful” event to give teens across the country an opportunity to share their personal experiences with bullying. We received many entries and thank everyone who participated! Josh, who is 14 years old, was randomly selected to receive the MacBook Air. Here is Josh’s story about bullying:
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“It all happened one day at recess in 3rd grade. I was on the swings pumping my legs back and forth in a rhythmic pattern, when suddenly the rhythmic pattern came to a halt and my life was never the same. Two girls, who appeared to be in 2nd grade, came up to the swings and started calling me ‘handicapped.’ Then they proceeded to tease me and sing in a tuneful, but tasteless song; ‘handicap, handicap, handicap.’ I knew that I shouldn’t let this incident go unnoticed, because, after all, they were bullying me. My friend, who was sitting next to me at the time, told me to a) ignore them and b) tell a supervisor. So we went to seek the assistance of a supervisor and told her what happened. She then came with us to the scene of the incident and punished the two girls by sending them inside.
For those of you who think that I was being a tattletale, I wasn’t. From that point on, I knew that I would be a strong advocate for people with disabilities. Now I am involved in my community by spreading the word around to end the “R-word” even if it is just fellow classmates I am spreading the word to. My hope is that my friends will tell their friends and eventually start a chain reaction, showing that one person can make a difference in their community. This is also an example of actions speak louder than words, because even though words can hurt, we as humans can overcome them and take a stand. This incident has helped to shape the person that I am today, and my message toward my other friends and peers to be more inclusive and advocate for what they believe and value.”
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Again, thank you to Michael and Marisa for hosting this event and for their continued support of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. With events like “Your Story is Powerful,” students can continue to raise awareness about the importance of bullying prevention.
We would love for you to visit our website, MichaelandMarisa
Watch our bullying video “The Same”
Hi, I’m Spencer Kane, and I’m a teen artist, actor, student, and varsity athlete.
I grew up playing basketball and baseball and at the age of 13 decided to pursue singing. At that same age, I also committed to staying pure before marriage. Being a jock and making those two choices wasn’t popular. In fact, I became a target for a lot of bullying. It was hard then and sometimes hard now when I still get made fun of for being a singer and varsity athlete or trying to save my first kiss for my future bride.
I received mean emails, prank calls, and even had some adults making fun of me. It got so bad that I had to switch schools to avoid being beat up.
I’m older now, and was able to get through a lot of it because my parents and family are so supportive and because my faith helped me. Some of those bullies have since apologized and realized they were wrong in how they treated me. Others still choose to spread rumors and say bad things about me even today.
I wrote ONE OF THE KIND because I know how hard it is to be bullied. Most of the time, I just needed a friend who cared how I was feeling or someone who would just be nice to me instead of making fun of me.
So many of my fans from around the world have shared their stories of being bullied and the things they do to cope with it. It breaks my heart. What I’ve found to be the best way to help is to simply… be KIND.Just letting people around you know they matter and even just saying hello can make a huge difference.
I’d like you to join me along with PACER TeensAgainstBullying in the goal of preventing bullying. I hope to get the message #BeOneOfTheKind trending on social media and help kids, teens, and adults understand that being KIND is a choice and there is always someone around them who they can be KIND to.
My parents always taught me that when I feel hurt because of words from someone else or feel hurt because of how I’m treated, I should NEVER repeat that to others. Bullying isn’t always being physically picked on, in fact, most of the time it’s unkind words. But it’s not just what others say to you or about you, it’s also what you say about yourself that can make things hard. I tell fans that they can be a bully to themselves just by choosing to believe the mean things others say about them and then calling themselves the same. Preventing bullying is also about choosing to not believe hurtful things others say about you. Being KIND includes to yourself.
If you can’t talk to your parents, a teacher, a leader in your community, reach out to PACER because they have a lot of ways to help you deal with bullying.