KERSHAW, S.C. -- Hundreds of students packed the gymnasium at Andrew Jackson Middle School this week. The students are there to hear the inspiring story of the life of Rachel Joy Scott, the first person shot and killed during the Columbine High School shootings in 1999.
The founders of Rachel Challenge used her personal diaries as the foundation to create the blueprints of a program to “create positive change” that travels the country to bring positive messages to schools and communities around the nation. First, students listened to the program and then some broke off into groups with teachers and other adults to work on ways to sustain the positive impacts.
Sixth, seventh and eighth graders heard the emotional program about Rachel’s life and how she treated others, especially those picked on by others.
“I think it touched a lot of kids here at the school and I think it affected us in a mighty way,” said eith grader Megan Phillips.
“I’ve seen people be called names, picked on cause of their height, weight and how they looked and skin color,” said student Markeis Barnes.
Butch Dutton has seen a lot in his 28 years in the teaching, the last 12 as principal at Andrew Jackson. He has also seen how bullying has gone Cyber.
“For us, I think it’s vital for children to understand we’re in a difference place than it’s ever been,” he said. “In years past, if something happened on Friday it may die down over the weekend and Monday was a new start.”
While bullying has remained over the many years, its form has evolved with technology. Now where victims of bullies and abuse could find solace at home or away from halls, cyber bullying brings those pains right to their phones or computers.
Students like Kendijah Brown said they’ve never seen the physical types of abuse from student to student, but they are used to seeing and hearing about cyber bullying.
“When it’s on Facebook and stuff, other people can see it and talk about and taunt you about it,” said Brown a 13-year-old eighth grader.
Now after listening to the program, Brown said she has learned some important tools that could help her combat abuse and empower her to help others.
“Just go to them and talk to them face to face and tell them “do you know what you’re doing is very wrong and it can hurt someone really badly and it could hurt someone and affect someone for the rest of their life.”