Fire Prairie Upper Elementary School student Tess Kinney has been watching the news on television, and she became concerned.
“I got tired of seeing kids committing suicide from bullying,” said Kinney. “It’s a serious problem and it made me sad.”
Being previously a victim of cyber bullying herself, she felt compelled to eliminate bullying. Kinney later discussed the issue of bullying with her friend, Shannon Jeffries, and the two sixth graders formulated a plan to stop bullying: Bully Busters.
“We want to end and stop all kinds of bullying,” says Tess.
Bully Busters is an after-school support group created by the two girls where students who are being bullied can help each other and also how to stand up to bullies. The group also hangs up posters throughout the school raising awareness about the issue and helps raise money for bully-related causes.
Both Shannon and Tess first approached their school counselor, Janelle Jones, about the group proposal. According to Tess, she loved the idea and advised the two students to create a Powerpoint presentation to meet with their school principal, Cody Hirschi, for consideration in making it an official school club.
“This was the first time a student has come up to me with a plan,” says Hirschi. A decision was later made and Bully Busters came into existence.
Any student attending the school is invited to join the Bully Busters group unless they have an office referral for bullying, says the two students. Students interested in joining sign a pledge promising that they will help create a positive, fun and safe environment for their school. And if a member is disciplined for being a bully, they are penalized from the group until they can figure out how to fix the problem, according to Tess.
The club meets once a month and occasionally has a guest speaker to discuss bullying. Weekly annoucements are made to address bullying and positive Post-It notes are dispersed throughout the building.
Although Fire Prairie’s administrators, Hirschi and Sarah Brown, say bullying isn’t much of a problem at their school, the two say the girls’ efforts have impacted the student body in a very positive way.
“We noticed kindness has spread throughout the school since Bully Busters,” says Hirschi. “Students are becoming more polite and less rude.”
“There has been a decline in reports of cyber bullying as well,” adds Brown.
Currently there are over 60 Bully Busters. The group is facilitated by Jones and so far they have applied for grants and are attending Parent-Teacher Organization meetings in hopes that future chapters of Bully Busters will spring out.
Recently Tess, along with her two principals and parents, attended a Fort Osage Board of Education meeting to present the success of Bully Busters (her co-founder, Shannon, was out of town with family at the time and could not attend) to board members. Tess hopes Bully Busters will be a districtwide support group. Her presentation received immense praise and reception.
“I am very proud of how she sticks up for others,” says Tess’s mother, Molly Kinney.
It appears the threat of bullying has vanquished at Fire Prairie Upper Elementary thanks to Bully Busters.