The Humanity Project runs anti-bullying programs in schools in Florida. The group’s founder, Bob Knotts, asked students to write a book about bullying.
As a kid, Bob Knotts got picked on. “It really affected me, as a child and even to this day,” he told TFK. Knotts believes that bullying hurts everybody, and that it takes everybody pitching in to stop it.
So Knotts had an idea for his writing workshop. This summer, he asked 50 students at Olsen Middle School, in Dania Beach, Florida, to write two books. The goal: to teach younger kids why bullying is wrong.
“At first, I didn’t want to do it,” said Nickhayla Meikle, a seventh grader in the writing workshop. But once she started, she says she began to feel that “people will be able to look up to me.”
The books, both titled I Was a Bully . . . But I Stopped, are told from the point of view of a bully. One is about a boy named Michael Rose. He has dyslexia, a learning problem, and family problems at home. He takes his feelings out on kids at school by bullying them. The other book centers on Lucina, a spoiled girl who mocks other kids. Creating the characters gave the writers a chance to explore why some kids bully others. They had sympathy for the bully, not just for the victims.
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Knotts says the workshop focuses on writing. But by the end of the summer, he noticed changes in the students’ attitudes. “Kids who were bullies were seeing the other side,” he said. “And the writing forced kids who had been bullied to look through the eyes of the bully.”
Destiny Sanders, who worked on the book, sees a change in herself. “Now, when my friends get bullied,” she says, “I try to stick up for them.”