October is bullying awareness month and domestic violence awareness month, and area schools are trying to bring those issues to the forefront.
Students that are part of the high school program, Choose Respect, gathered together to learn about how to recognize and be proactive about bullying, teen dating violence and sexual assault.
Sophomore Tajahnae Stocker has grown accustomed to seeing abuse and bullying in the halls of her high school.
"It's everywhere, and there's no need for it," Stocker said.
It's something she's tired of seeing, and is working to eliminate.
"I talk to my Avid class about it whenever I see it, and I try to stop it," Stocker said.
On Tuesday, she took her mission one step further and attended a bullying training session that addressed how to prevent it in her school.
"These are enthusiastic students that are really interested in making changes," said Southeast High School Counselor Jill Terhune. "They need help sometimes in figuring out how to go about that."
Different activities like skits placed students in practical scenarios.
"They need to come up with a solution as an upstander, not a bystander," said Allison Basinger, coordinator of "The Outrage" program.
The ultimate goal of this week's event is to have the students take what they learned and spread the message of respect around their schools.
"To get students talking about it, and standing up and saying this really isn't okay in front of their peers," Basinger said. "Which then leads these people to be, 'Hey, that's right, this isn't ok.'"
It's a small step towards making a big difference.
"The students say they want to change the way things are in their schools and then the community and then the world," Terhune said. "And if all of the students acted that way, thought respectfully, chose respect, tried to combat those negative behaviors and create a more positive environment, they could really impact the world."
The grant that began the Choose Respect and the Start Strong Wichita programs has come to an end. Now the programs are looking for community members to join with district sponsors for support.
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