MoBuddies spread stop bullying message

Deborah Prescott | Daily Press From left, MoBuddies Heather Conklin, Alison Sommers and Mallory Martin talk to eighth-grade students about pledging not to bully others. The Escanaba High School students spent time with junior high students recently to show and tell students how bullying affects someone and ways to make it stop. All three joined MoBuddies to help others after seeing someone bullied.

ESCANABA — Escanaba High School MoBuddies aim to stop bullying, on and off school property. Recently, 64 MoBuddy mentors gathered in the high school auditorium, then broke out into groups, after preparing to do a presentation for seventh and eighth-grade students.

Escanaba High School Special Education Consultant Kris Hawes-Aiken provided MoBuddies with statistics, an activity to perform with the students, questions to ask, and ideas on how to stop bullying.

“MoBuddies has changed our school atmosphere to a more friendlier place,” said Hawes-Aiken. “Though it’s not perfect, it has impacted mentors as much as the buddies. We strive to continue spreading acceptance and dealing with bullying issues as soon as possible as we hear of it.”

Junior high students signed the anti-bullying pledge after MoBuddies were done with their presentations. The pledge says to treat others respectively, include those who are left out, refuse to bully others, refuse to watch, laugh, or join in when someone is being bullied, tell an adult, and help those who are being bullied.

MoBuddies are students from 10th to 12th grade who mentor students from seventh grade up to prevent bullying and help others out. First year MoBuddies, Mallory Martin, Heather Conklin, and Alison Sommers, all joined the group after seeing someone bullied.

“Last year, I was in a gym class and saw this kid needed help. He usually had a MoBuddy, but he didn’t have one,” said Martin. “So I was hoping I could get in and get involved with him, instead I got somebody else but … that’s what made me want to get into it. I saw kids that really needed help and they needed more MoBuddies.”

October is National Bullying Prevention month. Bullying is a repeated behavior over a period of time, unwanted by the person receiving it. Bullying leaves long lasting negative effects on a person. Some effects can be depression, an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, anxiety, poor general health, substance abuse and difficulty establishing trusting relationships. Escanaba MoBuddies stand for bully prevention.

“I’ve always seen people that need help, and I’ve always liked helping people. Some kids at this school just need somebody to care about them, so I decided I could be that person and be a MoBuddy,” said Conklin.

MoBuddies had each class crumble paper and then tell them the wrinkles on the paper represented the scars a bully leaves on the victim. No matter how the students tried to smooth the wrinkles out, the paper could not go back to its original form.

“I got into MoBuddy because I saw there was bullying going on and I didn’t like it. I want it to end and I want to be a reason that it ends. I want to help and care for these kids because sometimes they have a hard home life and they need somebody … ,” said Sommers.

It is against the law to bully in Michigan. Bullying means any written, verbal, or physical act, or any electronic communication, including, but not limited to, cyberbullying, that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm one or more pupils either directly or indirectly.

Oct. 23, is Unity Day. A day to stand together against bullying and be united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion. It started in the U.S. in 2011.

Junior high students who were absent Thursday will hear the presentation on Monday, Oct. 14.