New NWI Times Laporte

LaPorte students take stand against bullying

By Stan Maddux – Times Correspondent
March 4, 2010

About 2,000 students in LaPorte took a stand against bullying Wednesday by signing a football field-sized banner that will be sent to Chicago and other parts of the nation.

The goal is to have the 100-pound banner, signed later Wednesday afternoon by students at St. Stanislaus School in Michigan City, on display at the White House.

“We’re looking for other states to come on board with the stop bullying program,” said Betty Hoeffner, founder of Hey U.G.L.Y. — Unique Gifted Loveable You.

Hey U.G.L.Y. is a Rolling Prairie-based group that reaches nationwide to empower children to feel good about themselves despite bullying, name-calling and other forms of abuse.

“We’re also getting contacted by children in China, Spain, Portugal, Canada, England and New Zealand recently,” Hoeffner said.

Unkind remarks about a child’s weight and other forms of abuse can mark victims with lifelong emotional scars and be a factor in victims becoming bullies themselves as adults.

Hoeffner said a child’s self-esteem being lowered by harsh words is a problem worsened today because of the Internet, text messaging and other new methods of communicating.

In schools, the Hey U.G.L.Y. program emphasizes instructing students to replace negative thoughts and statements about themselves and others into something positive.

Books are distributed to students with instructions on how not to become a bully and how to respond when seeing others being bullied.

Following a 45-minute program in the gymnasium, Blake Curtis, 16, a LaPorte High School sophomore, said he hopes the name-calling, pushing and other forms of bullying are reduced.

Curtis said while he signed the banner, he thought about the number of kids who are being bullied right now and how he was helping them.

Hoeffner said statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show almost 870,000 students nationwide every month stay home at least once a week because of fears about their safety.

She said a bullied child can result in bullying as an adult and in relationships at home and work.