Viral video that has led to an assault investigation in Burlington, Iowa, prompted students to speak out Tuesday night, saying it’s time to do something about bullying at all levels.
Around 30 parents and students gathered at Faith Temple Church Tuesday night to talk about their own experiences with bullying.
“People just hide their emotions, or they’ll keep it bottled up, and they feel like they have no one to talk to. So, this is kind of a place where they can just let all that out,” said organizer Nautica Cravens, a 9th grader at Burlington High School.
The group said bullying has long been an issue in Burlington, but that recent incidents, like the video, have brought the problem to light. Many who gathered said they have been bullied, both physically and verbally.
“In the past, I have been bullied, and I want other kids to feel comfortable talking like I wasn’t comfortable. Because I regret not talking to teachers,” said 9th grader Anthony Judd.
Now, the group hopes to make a change in the classroom and the larger community.
“I’ve taken a stand before, and most people know not to [bully anyone] around me, because I’ll try and say something about it, like, ‘That’s not right,’ or something like that. Anything to get it out in the open, and then [the bully] knows people are watching them now, so most likely they’ll stop,” said 12th grader Mario Gonzalez.
Those who have been bullied say finding one person you can talk to can make a huge impact, whether it be a teacher or friend.
“My friends, they’re always there to listen, and they’ve helped me so much that I’ll be here to help them. That’s why I’m here tonight,” said Judd.
And students hope Tuesday’s meeting will be the first step towards change in Burlington.
“I hope that they can honestly make a change in the schools, like if they see bullying, they won’t ignore it or push it aside,” said Cravens.
For complete coverage of the Burlington bullying investigation, click here.