If you ask fifth-graders at Dothan Brook Elementary School in Hartford about bullying, they'll give you an honest answer.
"I've known of more things happening on the bus than at recess and some serious things happen on the bus," student Cole Jasmin said.
"It hurts and as you get older, people won't want to be your friend," student Deondra Goodspeed said.
But these kids are not backing down. In fact, they are banding together, telling bullies they will not be tolerated in their school.
"Orange is the color of National Bullying Prevention Month," said Rebecca Lallier, a school counselor.
Along with T-shirts, the kids are making wristbands, paper chains and pencil toppers with a similar message. It's part of a monthlong anti-bullying curriculum promoting Unity Day. A school united against bullying.
"Having empathy, knowing how to be assertive. How to ask for help. Who is a good person to go to for help," Lallier said.
Teachers say they see success stories all the time. And it's the students who are enforcing the no-bullying law.
"One person said stop. Another person checked with the girl, 'Are you OK?' Another older kid came over and said, 'You need to stop that, please move,'" Lallier said.
"If the bystander doesn't do anything and they watch it, than they are pretty much being a bully themselves," Jasmin said.
Jasmin made a short stop film highlighting bullies and how to combat them. It's a use of technology that's fitting in a cyber-world where, these days, a lot of bullying takes place. And when it happens, these kids will tell you it's not easy to get over.
"Even though it was a month ago or a year ago, it stays with you," Goodspeed said.
So, as a school, one link at a time, they are coming together around a common cause, one they say is worth fighting for.
"Take a second to listen to what's actually happening in the world and what we could do to change it," Jasmin said.
The students will celebrate Unity Day this Thursday with a schoolwide assembly and performances. But they say the message of anti-bullying is one that they will take with them for the rest of their lives.
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