Bullying has become a hot-button issue in recent years, and as more people fight to put a stop to it, plenty of victims of bullying have been speaking out. But it seems like few people actually admit to being the bullies.
However, there's one incredible exception to that rule: 7-year-old Cameron Thompson. After one of his male classmates brought a Barbie doll to school for show and tell, Cameron, of Beaumont, Calif., teased the boy and encouraged some of his friends to do the same. When he confessed to his mom, Jessica Southard, she insisted that he write a note of apology to the boy and then befriend him at school. But that didn't go far enough.
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"I sought out the mom and apologized to her because that was not how I raised my child to be," Southard, an art teacher, told Yahoo Shine. "I kind of dropped it after that because [Cameron] had learned his lesson. But later, he came up to me and said he was still upset, and I said, 'That is shame.' He said, 'How do I get that feeling to go away?' I said, 'You need to be continue being nice.' Later, he said, 'I want to start an antibullying club at school.'"
That antibullying club went from idea to reality this month, with the first meeting held at Cameron's school, Tournament Hills Elementary. It meets every Friday during lunchtime and is based on the PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports) national program, which was already at place at Tournament Hills. Cameron hoped that maybe 10 kids would show up for the first meeting. He was thrilled when 76 came. Southard came up with the idea of making a video about Cameron's story that the group could show in future meetings. The principal liked it so much that she showed it in every single classroom last Friday. That video, "Confessions of a Bully," features Cameron talking honestly about his experience being a bully and how he felt sorry for what he had done. Southard has posted it on a Facebook page she and her son created, called Cameron's Anti-Bully Campaign.
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"We've seen other videos about bullying, and they're from the perspective of the kid who was bullied, not the bully," explains Southard about why she thinks "Confessions of a Bully" struck such a nerve. "Nobody wants to admit they were a bully. Maybe if it comes from a child, your own peer, it might have more impact."
But it may be Cameron, who has been diagnosed with both ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), who has learned the most from his very brief time as a bully. The second-grader is a member of the Cub Scouts and is fiercely protective of his 6-year-old brother, Gavin. "I think for him, it shows him the difference between positive and negative attention. He doesn't realize how far this has stretched beyond his school," says his mother.
However, not everyone is praising Cameron's club and video. Southard reports that some people think bullying is part of life and that everyone needs to develop a thick skin. But as someone who was bullied herself as a girl, she doesn't want other kids to have to experience that. "I won't let him bully other people," she says of her son. "I won't let him be that way."