Schools take pro-kindness approach to beat bullying

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BUCKHANNON, W.Va. (WDTV)- Students from across Upshur County spent the day outside the classroom for the county's biggest anti-bullying program event called Rachel's Challenge. Counselors say it's really about a shift of mindset; It's less about anti-bullying and more about pro-kindness.

But is it enough?

"There should be a little more because there's people being bullied every single day," said eighth grader Ashley Bond. "I see people being bullied and upset in the mornings and stuff and I've been bullied since kindergarten."

Bond says she's learned about how to prevent or break up bullying from Rachel's Challenge and classroom videos. School counselors say there are a lot of topics covered in guidance lessons and community-involved activities centered around being kind. One counselor says she's seen a change in student mindset about bullying.

"We have gone from a group of kids that didn't know what to do when an argument or a disagreement happened to being kids who would speak up," said Tanya Zickefoose.

In a WalletHub survey from August our state was ranked in the top five for having the highest percentage of high schoolers bullied. In 2012 a Department of Education report named Upshur County as having the highest bullying rate. But that scarlet letter is something counselors believe has changed, thanks to the program students took part in Tuesday.

"There is still some bullying and I feel that I have learned to try to stop that," said fourth grader Ella McNeish.

"If it wasn't for Rachel's Challenge and knowing how to handle with the bullying I don't know what I'd do," said Bond.

Bond worries about suicide with people her age who are bullied, but Rachel's Challenge isn't a suicide story. Rachel Scott was the first victim in the Columbine High School shooting. Learn how counselors believe her story teaches students different lessons about bullying and kindness in the interview above.