Grapevine school launches online initiative to stop bullying

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by GARY REAVES

WFAA

Posted on November 3, 2010 at 10:06 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 3 at 11:02 PM

GRAPEVINE — You may not know who Demi Lovato is, but there's a good chance your children do.

She is a Disney star from North Texas who is in the national spotlight — not for her talent, but for a stunning decision to check into a rehabilitation center for physical and emotional issues.

Part of the reason is said to be her history of being bullied in school.

Lovato's decision to get help comes at the same time her former school — in the Grapevine-Colleyville school district — is taking a stand against bullying.

"Those of you who know me know I'm a huge advocate for putting a complete end to bullying," Lovato says in a video message she recorded for Teens Against Bullying. Part of the reason, she says, is because she was treated so badly while a student at Cross Timbers Middle School in Grapevine that she needed to be home-schooled instead.

Today, Cross Timbers is on a different path.

The school has trained student leaders like Lexee Leach, the student council president, and has them going from class-to-class, teaching the rest of the student body how to stop bullying.

"Sometimes, when adults are talking, you respect and listen, but it make you feel different when you hear it from your own friends," Leach said.

The school has signs posted in every classroom, but it's the student-to-student touch that makes this program different.

"A couple of kids raised their hands and said, 'Sometimes it's scary to talk to the bully, and you don't want to get in the middle because you are afraid you might get bullied back,'" Leach said.

But with the new program in place, they don't have to worry — they can log in at the school's Web site and fill out an anonymous bullying report.

Cross Timbers' social worker, Sarah Bones, brought elements of the program from her last job in Seattle. She said it is just a coincidence that the online reporting started at the same time Demi Lovato checked into rehab.

"We were getting this program together long before any of that happened," Bones said. "We really believe it's important for us to have a program in place so they know that it's not OK... they can get help, and we are here for them."

In the past, Lovato has used her Twitter page to talk to her fans about bullying. Recently, however, she shut down that Twitter account amid reports that she was being bullied online by her detractors.

E-mail greaves@wfaa.com

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