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Solidarity can save lives.

One morning, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, a girl ran up to her social studies teacher, Janice Adams, crying. Some kids had chased her along the road to school, shouting racial slurs and calling the Muslim seventh grader a terrorist.

“It breaks my heart to know that this is even something we have to talk about,” said the girl’s student council advisor.

And yet we do have to talk about it—even at schools with strict anti-bullying policies, like Camino Real Middle School.

The Students Stood Up to Outnumber the Bullies

The student, who prefers to remain unnamed, told her social studies teacher that one kid tried to grab the hijab off her head. The incident left her feeling alone and very scared. Adams comforted her and then suggested they talk to another teacher about it. Together with Brittany Johnson, the school’s student council advisor, they gave the girl the time and space to express her feelings. Yet they knew that more had to be done.

Bullying is not something the school takes lightly. Johnson was disgusted and disappointed. Still, she knew the perpetrators represented a tiny fraction of the student body. “I suddenly felt that we needed to show everyone—not just her, but her bullies as well—that we are one,” said Johnson. “You’re not going to do that to one of our students. You’re not going to make somebody feel like they’re alone.” 

RELATED: Father Discovers His Daughter Is a Bully – What He Does Next Is a Powerful Reminder to All Parents

Johnson brought the issue to the school council. And the next day, that seventh grader was definitely not alone. She was surrounded by 100 kids walking her to school and sticking by her side in solidarity between classes.

The social studies teacher took a video of them and posted it to TikTok. “We are Camino Wildcats!” Says the video’s caption: “Way to show we are one! We don’t tolerate bullying!!”

Demonstrating Solidarity Can Be Incredibly Powerful

The girl, who had been crying and shaken just the day before, was now being buoyed up by her community. “You could just feel the tension loosen, and it’s just amazing,” said the school principal, Michelle Harris. She praised the students involved for showing true leadership when responding to the distressing situation.

Adams said, “I told her how amazing she is and that she’s loved.” Adams had clearly built a relationship with this student who felt safe coming to her for help and support. But the backing of an entire community of her peers solidified Adams’ statement in a way that nothing else could have. These students truly rose to the occasion.

Bullying has been regarded as acceptable—even as a rite of passage—in the past. Only recently have stories been coming to light about the extremely negative impacts that bullying can have on a person, even driving victim to suicide in some cases. Communities are demanding that a stop be put to this, and nearly every school has an anti-bullying program in place. Still, these events occur all the time just out of teachers’ sight or hearing. It takes a community of one’s peers to put bullies in their place. 

Bullying can affect one’s physical and mental health. But so can these types of acts of solidarity—this time, for the better.

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