West High School has a bullying problem.  

Walk around West High any school day and you can find somebody on campus who has been personally affected by bullying, or knows a student who has. I have tested this, and I found that every student I had spoken to had been subjected to bullying, at least once at West.

There have even been times when I have had to watch a close friend get called names just for being gay. All I could do was hold them and tell them it would be all right.

I’ve had friends physically hurt by bullies to the point where they did not feel safe coming to school.

I’ve personally been shoved by bullies in hallways and made fun of. I know how other victims feel.

Report after report have been filed by victims,  but there was hardly any effort to change the culture until a student who felt their only option was suicide filed a complaint. That set in motion something that has been sorely needed — an anti-bullying assembly to be hosted Tuesday and Thursday.

The goal of the assembly — a first-of-its-kind this year – is to end bullying at West High.

Members of the Gay Straight Alliance Club at my school took initiative and spoke with the dean. They explained to him that many bullies were targeting GSA members, or members of the LGBTQ+ campus community.

All of this is something I helped put into motion, because the bullying has personally affected me and my friends.

The West High School GSA is hoping to show other schools that bullying could be happening at their campuses, too. Even if a student or staff member does not see the bullying, it does not mean it is not there.  We are hoping to shed light on the serious bullying issues that are here on campus, and on many other campuses, so we can better handle them.

After all, what we don’t tell teachers they won't know about. And what they don’t know about they can’t help us with.

Our ultimate goal is to stop bullying before it starts. This could help decrease teen suicide rates, and help students feel safe at school. They’ll be able to focus on school work rather than worry about if they are going to get pushed in the hall. Once students are more comfortable, they could want to support their schools more, and try out for things like track and field and football. All of these things can happen. We can raise more productive members of society, and maybe even save a few lives.  

And we don’t want it to stop at West High School.

It’s my hope the assembly will inspire other high schools facing bullying issues to address their problems head on. I’d like for teachers and staff members at other schools to talk with students about the effects of bullying in more depth.

I also hope that this assembly will not only decrease bullying, but also cause an increase in kindness and empathy.

I would like to thank my school for helping the GSA host this very important event and for being so concerned about the well-being of their students. I am grateful for the dean of the school, who helped put this whole plan into motion. This will hopefully push this school — and many others — to better and greater things.

Chyna Patz is a student at West High School and a youth reporter for South Kern Sol, a youth-led community news website. 

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