One Lufkin middle school tackles bullying through author's message

Ben Mikaelsen, author of "Touching Spirit Bear"
Ben Mikaelsen, author of "Touching Spirit Bear"

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Here's hope teachers may turn the page on an age-old problem in our classrooms.

One Lufkin school is integrating anti-bullying into their lessons, hoping to attack the problem.

Kiabet Hernandez says she was bullied for years.

"It's hard to go to school every day knowing you're going to get laughed at for something that you are," said Hernandez.

This summer she started an anti-bullying group called No Place For Hate.

It's catching on.

Her campus, Lufkin Middle School is also taking bullying seriously.

"We are trying to listen more and to do more about it than I think in years past like when we were children and it's you have to be tough and get through it and now no, it's not that you have to be tough. It's that there is help, there is a solution out there," said Teresa Ragland, Lufkin Middle School Theater teacher.

The students started reading a book called "Touching Spirit Bear."

Teachers say the book fits existing curriculum and the anti-bullying message was just a bonus.

Community members and teachers pulled together to get the author at the school today.

"I really talk strongly to the students that your words are more damaging than any fist or any knife or even a gun," said author Ben Mikaelsen.

Mikaelsen told students he was bullied as young boy, growing up in Bolivia.

"I knew what it was like at a very young age to be held down, to have mud smeared in my face, to look at my skin and not like myself for who I thought I was and that feeling of being the outsider and not wanting to be different. Now, gosh I am so proud of my differences," said Mikaelsen.

His message is more than just... Don't be a bully.

It's how to deal with them.

"I think for many years teachers just tolerated it. They said oh, you know it's not that big of deal, they were just joking. Well, no if it hurts somebody then it's not a joke and so I talked real strong about it and I found that it does a lot of good. A lot of times, just defining the problem takes care of it," said Mikaelsen.

That's what these teachers are working toward...even in the classroom.

Cyber-bullying has taken bullying to a new level.
 Mikaelsen encouraged the kids to just hang in there and soon they will learn to appreciate their differences.

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