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Creative Commons of Flickr by Jay Baker

Bullying is an ongoing issue that has been addressed among individuals and in the media. It is the act of mistreatment which an individual causes to another individual, disregarding the emotional or physical abuse that has been inflicted. In 2014, bullying caught my attention. Between National Bullying Prevention Month, the young child locally that took his own life, and a program I am now involved in, the way I viewed bullying changed a lot last year.

October is the National Bullying Prevention Month, and it is meant to spread the awareness of what bullying is all about and ways to prevent mistreatment. I personally volunteered for an event at the California State Capitol Museum, helping out at various booths. Surprisingly, there were much more people that came to support anti-bullying than I expected. The booths were informational, each consisting of a different type of bullying or a certain kind of relation to it. Beforehand, I had some knowledge about bullying but attending the event really made me understand the passion and importance that drives people to support anti-bullying.

Not too long ago, news broke of a local young boy in middle school named Ronin Shimizu who took his own life because of being bullied. He transferred to different middle schools because of bullying, the district not acting upon the matter. Friends claim that the reason Ronin was being bullied was because of his decision to become a cheerleader. It’s terrifying how an act of bullying can take away someone’s life, especially a person so young who still had a whole life ahead of him.

“He was always so passionate, like he didn’t care what a lot of people said. He just kept going on with life. He was always so happy, like the happiest person I’ve ever met,” said one of Ronin’s friends in news reports after his death.

The high school that I attend, Luther Burbank High School, has a program called the Safe School Ambassadors. Safe School Ambassadors is a program where random students of different cultural backgrounds are chosen in each Small Learning Community, based on the evaluation from a Safe School Ambassador teacher. I was chosen to become a Safe School Ambassador and attended one meeting that was both meaningful and inspirational. The speaker in charge of the Safe School Ambassador meeting taught students that bullying is mistreatment and that there is no way to guarantee the prevention of bullying. However, there are ways to distract, step in and ensure that the victim of bullying can gain some confidence. The role of a Safe School Ambassador is to first notice bullying around school and take action, even a small act if not impactful.

Bullying seemed to reappear in my life a lot this year, really making me pay attention to my surroundings. Whether from personal experience or as a witness, bullying can affect anyone negatively and identifying bullying can help a lot of victims.