Blog post

Friendship is the key to end school bullying: The story of Natalie

By Joanna K

Last time, we heard the story of the third culture kids, who are raised between different cultures. This time, kids who have the experience of school bullying are waiting to be heard. And they need to know that they will have a friend at school to do things together. They will stop being a target and avoid loneliness. It takes a person to make a difference.

So what difference can friendship make to school bullying? We can find the answer in the story of Natalie Hampton, a teenage student in the United States. She has turned her personal experience of bullying into determination to support other students, to avoid marginalisation and enjoy school life. And she has achieved that with the help of technology.

Natalie’s story exemplifies how having a friend at school can make a difference. Moreover, how a difficult experience such as school bullying, could turn into a positive life purpose, and allow a person in pain to lead a different path. Let’s see how.

The experience of bullying

When the time came to attend middle school, Natalie could see that the other students had already formed groups of friends and there was no place for her. During lunch time, she would sit alone at the lunch table. She had no other choice. Her schoolmates would tell her openly and directly that she couldn’t sit with them. She was marginalised.

At some point, the other students started to tease her, and attack her. The school teachers couldn’t intervene. They were convinced that something she was doing was provoking aggressiveness against her. For two years, she would go through this difficult situation, which can leave deep scars in a young person’s soul.

Somebody cares

When middle school was over, she changed school to attend high school. She had no prospects for friends. She spent the first day alone until a female student approached her to befriend her. That action made all the difference. Natalie wouldn’t be alone and marginalised again. There would be no more teasing – no more attack.

The first friend to make was the student who approached her on the first day of school. She went on to make more friends. Some of them were students who were alone and had no one to sit with during lunch time, at school. Every time she would see a student left alone, she would suggest that they sit with her friends and her.

The idea and the award

Natalie decided to help other students to avoid bullying in a positive way. Having attended specialised classes, she devised the Sit with Us mobile application that enables students to see who they can sit with at the lunch table and hence make plans for lunch and conversation. The application was a success and she started collaborating with organisations aiming to prevent bullying on a wider scale.

In 2017, MENSA Foundation for Education and Research presented Natalie with the annual Copper Black award “for the creative use of technology to deter bullying and, furthermore, for her work as an anti-bullying advocate.”

A positive message

In Natalie’s story, I can see a young person who has turned a difficult experience into her life purpose with positive outcomes for herself and the community. Once marginalised, she assumed action to develop meaningful relationships within and outside school. In a creative and innovative way she has achieved two things:

  • Find her voice, make friends and create happy experiences at school for herself.
  • Help students in other schools to avoid experiencing loneliness and isolation, and start communicating with their peers creatively, having fun.

I find this to be an inspiring story and a positive way to prevent school bullying. It takes a friend to make a difference.

This is what I can see in the picture I took at a local education institute. Someone conceived the idea of having the tree of friendship (to dendro tis filias) drawn on the wall. And encouraged the rest to leave their mark, join hands and share the message that friendship isn’t too elusive to be pursued.

Have a creative week

in the company of dear friends!

A blogger friend, Joanna

Sources

MENSA Foundation. (2017). Natalie Hampton, 2017 Copper Black Award winner

Paresky, P.B. (2017, 10 November). Meet the teen who discovered the secret of social capital

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Comments (29)

  • Rain Shalom

    26 February 2019 at 03:05

    I really admire Natalie. She’s such a strong young lady. I think friendship should be encouraged by parents and teachers and parents should raise their children properly at home. A lot of these children learn these bad habits from their home.

    1. Joanna K.

      26 February 2019 at 08:33

      I know what you mean. That is why parents and schools need to collaborate, to find common ground.

  • Swagata Sen

    25 February 2019 at 06:28

    WOW!!! Such an inspiring and amazing story ! The World needs many more Natalias today ! Thank you for sharing this story. Wish schools and teachers are little more sensitive in dealing with this issue!

    1. Joanna K.

      25 February 2019 at 08:00

      Swagata, thank you for your kind words. Have a good week.

  • Subhashish Roy

    24 February 2019 at 11:50

    The race for superiority amongst children is a very serious issue in today’s times. And needs to be handled with compassion and with priority.

  • Mary

    24 February 2019 at 08:15

    What a sweet young lady, and excellent idea!

  • Erica (The Prepping Wife)

    24 February 2019 at 07:32

    This is such a great idea, and an inspiring post. Kids are mean to each other. Hopefully learning earlier to help each other will inspire growth and kindness.

    1. Joanna K.

      24 February 2019 at 12:29

      Erica, I’m glad you have found this post helpful. I agree. We adults can show kids how to help each other, be kind to each other, at a early age.

  • Ashley

    24 February 2019 at 03:01

    High school was so awful for me. I sat alone a lot. These days I’m sure it’s even harder with online bullying even when you leave school campus. So nice to see the internet be used for a good cause for these kids

    Xo,
    Ashley
    Mixtapeyogi.com

  • Nero

    24 February 2019 at 01:34

    If only we can somehow teach kids to be nicer to each other instead of trying to create a pecking order, lots of mental health issues could be nipped in the bud.

    1. Joanna K.

      24 February 2019 at 12:42

      Nero, I’d like to believe that we can help kids to understand that bullying is behaviour that hurts. And show them, in a creative way, what the impact of bullying could be – for all involved.

  • Nina Nichols

    24 February 2019 at 00:25

    Not all victims of bullying emerge victorious. Others ended up permanently damaged or dead. I truly admire people who go through that situation. I think it’s the responsibility of the school to ensure that bullying is under control if not totally nonexistent in school.

    1. Joanna K.

      24 February 2019 at 12:50

      True. We need to be open about the fact that bullying may even lead to deep hurt or death. To understand the impact of bullying on the human soul.. I wish to believe that even if an experience is very difficult, there is hope.

  • Andrea (2oddravens)

    23 February 2019 at 23:22

    As an early childhood educator, it is disheartening to see how early the bullying can start. I’ve seen children as young as 4 and 5 years old bully one another. It is important to teach children to love those around, and to teach them that everyone is unique (and that’s what makes us beautiful).

    1. Joanna K.

      24 February 2019 at 12:54

      Andrea, what you have pointed out sounds so beautiful: We are all unique and that makes us beautiful – ready to enjoy life.

  • Lindsay Brown

    23 February 2019 at 22:51

    What an inspiring story. My daughter faced bullying issues at the starting of this school year and it was such a difficult thing to have to go through. It is so heartening to know that there are amazing young people out there like Natalie who are working to stop bullying in its tracks. This sounds like a really neat app. Thanks for sharing this story with us!

    1. Joanna K.

      24 February 2019 at 13:01

      Lindsay, I’m sorry to read that your daughter has experienced bullying. I hope she has good friends-peers, to remind her that she isn’t alone. And that she deserves to enjoy school life.

  • Johnny Quid

    23 February 2019 at 22:17

    “Friendship Is Essential To The Soul”…that’s the motto for the Omega Psi Phi fraternity that my grandfather helped found years ago, and it rings true even today. When you have friends, you have someone you can confide in, someone you can lean on, someone who will listen, and sometimes someone who will protect you and come to you aid in your time of need. Also, you’re much less likely to get bullied when you have your friends with you. Safety in numbers. Beautiful post.

    1. Joanna K.

      24 February 2019 at 13:07

      Johnny, I like the sound of your grandfather’s motto. Friendship is essential for all the reasons you have beautifully explained, and reminded us of. It seems there are times when we forget what the meaning of friendship is.

  • Tracy C

    23 February 2019 at 21:38

    As a teacher who has lunchroom duty each day, I make a point of talking to anyone who sits alone. Often I ask someone I know is a nice student to ask that student to sit at his or her table the next day. Occasionally I do get students (only one or two over the past few years) that say they prefer to sit alone. This app is a great idea –however, at our middle school, students aren’t allowed to have their phones during the day. I’ll have to keep looking into this idea to see how we could possibly adapt it to suit our needs.

    1. Joanna K.

      24 February 2019 at 13:15

      Tracy, well done, for making certain that no kid sits alone in the lunchroom. And so no kid becomes a possible target for bullying.. Mobile phones can be both tricky and helpful.

  • Melody

    23 February 2019 at 16:47

    What an inspiring story. Not only her resolve to change things for herself, but also her determination to help others. Thank you for sharing. I had not heard this before.

    1. Joanna K.

      24 February 2019 at 13:18

      Thank you, Melody. I’m glad you have learned something new today.

  • Live Learn better

    23 February 2019 at 16:43

    This is an awesome and inspiring post. I have always said that you can make a lemonade out of the lemon life tosses at you. She could have taken it the other way and just keep it bottled up till it spirals out of hand and lead to something fatal.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Joanna K.

      24 February 2019 at 13:28

      Thank you for your comment. And for reminding us that keeping things bottled up may not be the best way, for us, to deal with difficult experiences.

  • Vincent Monaco

    23 February 2019 at 15:07

    I am glad you shared this story. Bullying has always been an issue in school. Two of my girls experienced it first hand and there was not much I felt I could do to help. Thank you for letting us know about this story and the app.

    1. Joanna K.

      24 February 2019 at 13:40

      Vincent, I’m sorry to read that your two daughters have experienced bullying.. Thank you for sharing how you have felt about that. It helps to understand how bullying can affect the whole family.

  • Scott DeNicola

    23 February 2019 at 13:05

    In this day of bullying in person and cyber bullying it’s hearwarming to see a girl like Natalie have something positive come out of horrible experiences. I hope this young lady continues to do wonderful things in life

    1. Joanna K.

      25 February 2019 at 13:25

      Scott, I hope so too. And I hope that every kid going through a difficult experience will be able to embrace wonderful things in life.

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