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Florida teens start a club that ‘really makes a difference’ with bullying

March 18, 2017

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A group of Florida students recently started a social club that has one purpose — making sure no one sits alone at lunch.

The club, called We Dine Together, calls for members to walk around the cafeteria and school campus during lunch at Boca Raton Community High School to see if anyone is sitting alone, according to The Huffington Post.

If someone is sitting alone, a club member will sit next to that student and talk to him or her.

Denis Estimon, who arrived in the United States from Haiti during his first-grade year, is a member of the club. He told CBS it's important to make sure people sit together at lunch.

“To me it’s like ... if we don’t try and go make that change, who’s going to do it?” he told CBS’ Steve Hartman.

Similarly, Allie Sealy said the club helps make a difference.

“Meeting someone who actually cares and listens to what you have to say really makes a difference,” she told Hartman. “And that could happen at lunch, that could happen at our club.”

The club has a Facebook page where members share daily updates about their meetings and explain how other students can get involved.

Most recently, the group shared a poem delivered by Nathaniel Hopwood, one of the club’s members.

“This is an insight to our weekly club meetings held at Boca Raton Community High School,” the page explained.

These Florida teens aren’t the first who have worked to stop lunchtime bullying. Natalie Hampton, 16, started an app called “Sit With Us” during the fall of 2016, according to the Deseret News.

The app allows users to either sign up as an ambassador, who helps organize lunches, or find ways to meet with other people during lunch, the Deseret News reported.

Hampton told NPR she often felt rejected at lunch, knowing there were few places she could sit in peace.

The app, she said, can help people feel more secure during lunchtime.

“At my old school, I was completely ostracized by all of my classmates, and so I had to eat lunch alone every day,” she said. “When you walk into the lunchroom and you see all the tables of everyone sitting there and you know that going up to them would only end in rejection, you feel extremely alone and extremely isolated, and your stomach drops. And you are searching for a place to eat, but you know that if you sit by yourself, there'll be so much embarrassment that comes with it because people will know and they'll see you as the girl who has nowhere to sit. So there's so many awful feelings that come along with it.”

Bullying proves to be a major issue for high school students. According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, about 1 in 4 students are bullied during the school year.

Between 40 and 75 percent of bullying happens during lunch breaks or recess or in the hallways, according to recent research.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of students don’t report that they’re bullied, the NBPC explained.

Bullying can happen for a multitude of reasons, include body size, race, ethnicity and social status, according to the NBPC.

More than half of all bullying ends, though, when a bystander intervenes.

Sealy said that’s why the We Dine Together club exists — to make sure no one feels bullied or hurt during the school day.

“It just seems really unfair,” she said in the CBS interview. “It’s honestly an issue."


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