WHITE PINE (WATE) - Meetings with the White Pine seventh graders start each week by sharing something fun. Ice breakers they call it.
But within minutes, the discussion turns serious. The topic of the day is "What is bullying?"
Their answers varied, spanning a range from "when you're kicked or pushed down," to "when it actually starts to hurt that person, and they tell you to stop, but you keep doing it."
The group brainstorms ways to work together to prevent or stop bullying. Jefferson County Schools is adopting a comprehensive bullying prevention program for all elementary and middle schools.
These meetings started just a month ago, and according to seventh grader Austin Mayberry, "It gives us a chance to get stuff off our chest and if we have anything we just want to let off and cry and stuff."
Their motto is "What's said here, stays here."
"Sometimes the group gets very intense, as far as personal stuff that's going on in their lives," said faculty advisor Gigi Sharp, "It helps to build community and it's kind of harder to pick on somebody that you've cried with and that you've bared your soul to."
It seems to be working.
"Our class started out and we really didn't know each other," confided seventh grader Elizabeth Young, "we were just all together. Then we've actually grown into a family because of this program."
Since the students are the ones who witness bullying most, they're learning it's up to them to do something about it.
"I have stood up for a lot of people and when I do stand up, then they leave them alone," said Cassandra Kyker, also in seventh grade. "But if I know that I can't stand up to that person, I'll go and get a teacher."