12-year-old student uses her experience of being bullied to help solve the problem

11/10/2015 03:14 PM

FRANKFORT – One of the keys to stop the problem of bullying in Kentucky is to recognize that it is a community-wide health issue, rather than a school-specific one.

That was one of the recommendations from the Kentucky Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force which was established in October, 2014 to come up with bullying prevention strategies that, if implemented, would lead to safer schools and communities.

Bullying can result in physical injury, social and emotional distress, and in some cases, even death. Bullied youth are at an increased risk for mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, psychosomatic complaints such as headaches, and poor school judgement. Youth who bully others are at an increased risk for substance abuse, academic problems, and violence later in adolescence and adulthood.

The youngest member of the task force was 12-year-old Morgan Guess of Lone Oak, who, as an 8-year-old, was bullied by another student.

“Well I was in third grade and there was a girl I had never been in class with and she was sitting next to me, she started to pinch me on the back of the neck, pulled my hair, called me stupid,” Guess said.

Guess was one of an estimated 55,000 Kentucky students who are bullied annually in the commonwealth.

She decided that instead of remaining silent, she would work as an advocate to stop bullying by founding the Guess Anti-Bullying Foundation, with her mother Susan, which provides education and resources to schools, parents, and the community about the impact bullying has on the bully, the bullied, and to the quality of life measurements in the state.

In addition, she and Susan were two of 26 appointees to the Kentucky Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force which presented their final recommendations to members of the Interim Joint Committee on Education on Monday, where the 12-year-old addressed the committee.

In addition to the four steps, the task force calls for a number of services and supports from the Kentucky Department of Education ranging from reporting the number of bullying incidents in a school system on Infinite Campus to providing training for bullying prevention programs.

National expert Dr. Barbara Temkin concluded her October 2014 presentation to the Task Force, by saying there is “no magic solution” to prevent bullying.

The task force developed recommendations that are coordinated, flexible and can be regionally and locally adapted to meet the needs of local schools and communities, with the ultimate goal of creating safer schools and communities.


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