Bullying is nothing new, but in recent years it’s become a full-blown epidemic in schools around the country.
Statistics show that one in four school-aged children report being bullied, while 160,000 students miss school every day for fear of being bullied. Bullying is directly related to youth violence, and is sadly a leading cause of suicide, making it that much more important of an issue to pay attention to.
Ohio native Scott Hannah, 22, is dedicating his life to stopping the epidemic in its tracks. He has been working since he was a teen to inspire the victims of bullying to push forward in their lives, and to let the bullies themselves understand the true harm they are causing.
When Scott was a sophomore in high school, he and his friend Tyler Gregory noticed how serious the bullying problem at their school had become. They also realized how entrenched the issue had become in the lives of their classmates. Scott told LittleThings that they “wanted to take a stand and change the atmosphere in our school.”
How Scott and his classmates decided to do that would ultimately change the course of his life, as well as the lives of many others.
Scott and Tyler decided to create an anti-bullying video, and they involved their classmates in the production. The minute-long video featured about 60 of their classmates holding signs. Some were labeled with insults they have been called, while others were labeled with the emotions that the name-calling made them feel. It was set to an emotional original song called “Just Another Day,” which was created by one of Scott’s family friends.
Scott and Tyler then decided to submit the project to The NO BULL Challenge, a competition where young people enter short films that highlight a social issue they are passionate about. The duo’s film became one of 15 nominees for the 2012 competition year.
Although the film itself did not take home the top prize, the entry eventually led Scott to win the NO BULL Shining Star award and to become a national spokesperson for the NO BULL organization. Scott’s public speaking engagements encourage students to generate change through filmmaking, to become leaders, and of course, to take a stand against bullying.
This advocacy work for NO BULL has taken Scott, who is currently a senior at Wright State University in Ohio, to places like San Francisco, Denver, Washington, D.C., and New York City to meet with teens. But it isn’t the travel opportunities that he finds most rewarding. Rather, Scott says that it’s “hearing what students say to me after the assemblies that we have — that’s honestly the best reward I could ever receive.”
One encounter in particular sticks out in Scott’s mind.
He said: “There was a student who waited very patiently for everyone to leave after I spoke. When I asked him ‘What’s up?’ he immediately started bawling. He said that for the past two months he was dating a girl who was actually tricking him and playing with his heart, and that his entire grade (besides him) knew it was a joke but never told him. He would write love notes to her and she would read them with all of her friends and they would construct a letter back to him and he would read it thinking it was real.”
When somebody finally had the heart to tell him what was happening, he was understandably heartbroken.
Scott said: “He started writing letters to everybody he loved — his brothers, sisters, and his parents, and everyone who did this to him — telling them not to live their lives regretting what they did to him, and that he was planning on taking his own life that very weekend. When he began to understand he wasn’t alone, he realized that suicide wasn’t the answer for him.”
For those currently facing bullying and struggling to see the light beyond the tunnel, Scott has this to say: “If you’re being bullied, you have to keep calm and not let it take over and become the main focus of your life. You have to remember that this is going to be a short period, and to think towards the next chapter. For example, if you’re being bullied in middle school, high school is coming and with it, so many new opportunities that you can take advantage of.”
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