Middle School Students Take on 'Bystander Revolution Challenge'

October is Bullying Prevention Month. According to the National Education Association, more than 160,000 children will miss school everyday out of fear of being bullied. Wisconsin is in the top half when it comes to bullying. A Wallet Hub survey ranks the Badger State 18th. 

That's why schools are coming up with unique ways to fight back. In Waukesha, at Butler Middle School, students are taking part in a month of action, called the Bystander Revolution Challenge. 

"We have challenges every day in October, which are pretty cool and really fun to play around with," said 8th grader Mali Sandoval.

Included in the program are classroom lessons and a daily call to action. Challenges include things like "rep your teacher," "sit with someone new," and "send a track."

"I feel it boosts people to do the right thing instead of pushing them away and just watching what’s happening," said 7th grade student, Elliana Olson. 

Instead of preventative discussions, Butler staff says it's about empowering young students to stand up for themselves and their friends. 

"Despite our efforts, bullying still exists," said Kim  Harrington, a school counselor at Butler. “All 900 plus students here will hear our bullying presentation that deals with conflict resolution, what bullying is, what it isn’t, because there’s misunderstandings about what it is. From there, we teach them different ways of getting help.”

Harrington says the goal of the "Bystander Revolution Challenge" is to equip students with the tools they need to be responsible, respectful adults.

“Our ultimate goal is for students not to be bystanders anymore. We want them to be what we call 'upstanders.' To stand up when we see bullying or any injustices going on," said Harrington. "They have as much, if not more, power to end bullying than the adults in this building. Their peers listen to them.”

The school also encourages parents to get involved. 

“For me as a parent, it really starts at home," said Steve Olson, Elliana's dad. “It’s a learned behavior, and in order to change it, you have to get to the core of it. You have to educate kids on what it is and why it’s hurtful.”

Each school in the Waukesha district has its own practice regarding how to report bullying. At Butler, students have an anonymous, online submission form. Students at Horning Middle School can also report bullying online. At South High School, students can text a number for help.  

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