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Bullying Lesson Was Painful

Motivated by bullying, she teaches kids how to stand up for themselves.

By Roger Neuman, Star-Gazette ( December 18, 2007

When I was in sixth grade, I was waiting in the hallway for the door to math class to open when I heard a voice say, "Move it, whale."

Not realizing who this comment was directed to, I thought how awful it was. Then I heard the words repeated, this time a little louder.

As the harsh reality that the comment was directed towards me registered, I stepped aside. Who knew that a sixth-grade girl standing 5-foot-3 and weighing 147 pounds would be called a whale in public?

I sat in disbelief that day as the lunch room became a verbal battlefield where crude remarks like "Krysten wants MOORE food" were shot at me. As the lunch period ended, I hurried off to class in hopes of a bully-free period, but I was never so fortunate. As the year went on, so did the bullying.

Lockers were slammed in my face, people pushed me while walking down the hallway, names were called and pictures were drawn. I would never have thought that two 11-year-old boys could ruin a girl's self-esteem, turn her friends against her and make her fearful of going to school.

As time passed and the Internet became more prevalent, the bullies took advantage of their newfound power. Now the attacks weren't just happening in school but also at home. I was not only a victim of verbal and physical bullying but now also a victim of cyber-bullying.

While boys made up fake screen names and told me they liked me, or people wrote bad things about me in their blogs, I began not to see anyone as a friend. I thought that the whole world was against me and that there was no way a girl like me could possibly find friends.

Now, six years later, I use some powerful words of my own. However, they are not intended to be hurtful but rather to inspire. I am able to travel, speaking to children about the harmful effects of bullying and how each of us can stand up, speak out and make a difference.

Bullying has become so common that it is often considered a normal part of growing up. But it is not. It's a public health problem that requires our immediate attention and action.

We must understand and believe that bullies don't define who we are, they simply define who they are.

Krysten Moore, 18, of Mahwah, N.J., is Miss Teen New Jersey International 2007 and the National Bully Prevention spokesperson for Love Our Children USA .

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