In the News (Delaware Gazette):
BV junior leads charge against bullying
Abbey Fields, a Buckeye Valley High School junior, knows what it’s like to be bullied since she experienced it firsthand in elementary school.
“I experienced almost all of it,” said Abbey, 17. “I was sexually harassed. Cyberbullying, gossip, rumors, verbal.”
Abbey’s mother, Beckie Fields, said that the bullying was so bad that she even pulled her daughter out of school for a period of time.
“It’s very real and harmful,” Fields said. “I don’t think we can do enough to educate on how harmful it can be.”
In today’s age of smartphones and social media, a person can virtually bully another from anywhere, Abbey said.
Abbey’s negative experiences with bullying got her thinking at a Youth 2 Youth workshop she attended at Capital University and how she could bring something positive back to the community. And that was how Thank Goodness I’m Female — or T.G.I.F. — was born.
Abbey worked with Brande Urban, a prevention educator with Help Line of Delaware and Morrow counties, to develop the program aimed at addressing relational aggression among girls. Abbey even wrote and secured a grant through the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio that trained Buckeye Valley High School students to lead meetings in the spring and fall for selected Buckeye Valley Middle School girls.
Abbey also conducted a youth survey with results indicating that out of 79 female students in the Buckeye Valley district, 89 percent have felt excluded, had a rumor spread about them or had been given a dirty look by another female. More than 72 percent had one of these events occur in middle school.
“These girls also report feeling rejected,” Abbey said.
The teen-led meetings, which are hosted at both Buckeye Valley and Genoa middle schools, focus on changing relational aggression and promoting strategies to stop bullying through discussion, interactive activities, group art and videos.
Those participating in the program even participated in self-defense classes dubbed “Girls Kick Butt Day,” which teaches confidence and techniques in dealing with bullies.
T.G.I.F. is even the subject of accolades. In December, the Ohio Department of Education awarded the 2011 Asset Builder Award to the program for a school district youth-led group.
Abbey is going into the program’s third year and sees a big change in girls who are selected for the program. She said that other schools are either implementing their own programs or asking for T.G.I.F. at their schools.
“We definitely want to help out in the Delaware community and expand out,” Abbey said.
She continues looking for grant sources to keep the program going and will soon offer teacher and parent sessions.
“This gives teachers an opportunity to see exactly what we teach the students,” Abbey said. “Parents don’t quite know what to do. Parents definitely struggle, so we’ll add a segment for parents, too.”