As legislators push forward new anti-bullying legislation, Gayhead Elementary School celebrates its yearlong effort to stop the age old problem. YNN's John Wagner has the story.
HOPEWELL JUNCTION, N.Y. -- Bullies come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Second grader Ciara O'Connor says she's seen them at the playground.
"Sometimes they can have something bad going on in their life and they take their anger out on other people," continued O'Connor. "So basically, they're the ones kind of being hurt too."
Gayhead Elementary teaches students year round why it happens and how they can help.
"Don't be someone that you want to be. Be yourself," said fifth grader Michael Carmosino.
"You should tell the bully to stop and if they don't stop, you should just tell a teacher," said first grader Izak Battle.
"We try to build them up that way so that they don't have low self esteem and that they have the courage to stand up to a bully and not be a bystander," said Kelly Hanna, a first grade teacher and chair of the school's bully prevention committee.
As students rally, legislators prepare to vote on a bill this week that would require schools to keep records of cyberbullying and teach students how to behave on social networks.
"It hurted them, they started crying and I helped them," said second grader Nicholas Seda, describing an episode when a friend got bullied.
"Maybe you should try being nice to them because they have feelings too," said Ciara O'Connor, who believes many bullies just need a friend.
While you generally wouldn't equate Facebook with kindergartners, a number of these elementary students are already logged on. By teaching about bullies now, the school prepares them for the nerve-racking jump to middle and high schools.
The entire school created "me-shirts" painted with their nationality and interests, as a way of sticking together.
"I see people's shirts, painted with cool things and I say I like your shirt," said Nicholas Seda.
"They help them realize that we aren't so different after all," said Kelly Hanna. "We have a lot in common with each other and we shouldn't focus on the negative and the things that are different."
Teachers believe the more bullying stays in a spotlight the less opportunity for it to go on. And even at a bright young age, Ciara knows there's a better way.
"Honestly, if you're trying to be cool, don't be a bully," said Ciara O'Connor. "Because everyone's cool in their own way."