Brandon Paulsen
Bullying Survivor
Male | Tampa, FL   United States
Bullied boy finds strength in allies
Bullying Type: Emotional
Posted By: Dreams
2/26/14 10:36 AM
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It happens at the school gym and even in the cafeteria, but nowhere is bullying more prevalent today than on social media.

Sameer Hinduja is a Professor of Criminology at Florida Atlantic University, the Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and a co-author of the book Words Wound, which shows examples of how kids are fighting back against bullying by making kindness go viral.

"You're a lot more free to go ahead and say things that are really painful and really malicious that you would never say face to face," he explained. "Slowly but surely, it gains traction and so more and more teens start to do the right thing, it becomes cool to care and really lame to be a jerk."

That's started a nationwide push toward so-called "nice it forward" movements. One entitled "We are All Daniel Cui" shows how a group of high school students helped an underdog soccer goalie improve his game by rallying behind him.

The voice narration from a fellow student said, "My entire news feed was covered with Daniel Cui stories. He came to school the next day like he was 10 feet tall."

Danny Keefe and his band of brothers did a similar thing elsewhere.

"He's a very good friend for us, and we didn't want to see him being picked on," said Danny's friend on one video.

So, like Danny, they all sported suit and ties to show camaraderie.

"It felt good to know that Danny knows we love him, and we have his back," his friend said.

The idea of kids having each other's back caught the attention of Eisenhower Middle School dropout specialist Paul Burke. He launched the Ambassador program at the school.

"It's a student advocacy group for students, by students," he said.

Brandon Paulsen said he struggled as a new student.

"I was in 5th grade, and I got so embarrassed. That's one of the reasons that I didn't talk as much. No one wanted to be friends with me," he said.

Theniias Moss, a 6th grader at Eisenhower, became Brandon's ambassador.

"At first, he was very shy," Theniias said. "I would walk by him and say hello, and he would just like put up his arm; he was so shy."

This specific group helps new students by giving them instant friends to sit with at lunch, show them around the school, and most importantly, stick up for them if they're being bullied.

"He has a lot more friends. He opens up himself, and he speaking now and he's not really shy anymore," said Theniias.

"Brandon today is happy, feels accepted, and likes school," said Brandon's mother, Debbie. "For him to want to run for student council, where he would be very noticed, and have to talk to people and have to try to become a leader himself – we were very surprised."

Brandon agreed, saying he's "just hoping that some people will respect me a little more because I don't want people to make fun of me again."

After all, it's what every kid wants - a feeling of acceptance. Something they're finding with a little help from their friends.

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Story Details

Name: Brandon Paulsen
Age: N/A
Country: United States
Location: Tampa, FL
Gender: Male
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