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Stopping bullying in its tracks

'Stand for the Silent' club forms at DHS after Facebook incident

Brady Renfro, left, and Alicia Scherer have organized an anti-bullying club at Dallas High School, hoping for it  to be a local chapter of the national program “Stand for the Silent. “ Scherer was the voice of a campaign to permanently take down a Facebook page used to bully students in the Dallas area. The page was taken down Jan. 17 after Scherer took concerns public and the page was reported to the Dallas Police Department.

Jolene Guzman/Itemizer-Observer

Brady Renfro, left, and Alicia Scherer have organized an anti-bullying club at Dallas High School, hoping for it to be a local chapter of the national program “Stand for the Silent. “ Scherer was the voice of a campaign to permanently take down a Facebook page used to bully students in the Dallas area. The page was taken down Jan. 17 after Scherer took concerns public and the page was reported to the Dallas Police Department.

January 28, 2014

DALLAS — Helping take down a Facebook page used to harass and embarrass students in the Dallas area wasn't the first time Dallas High School sophomore Alicia Scherer has stood up to bullies.

It likely won't be the last time, either.

She intends to continue her anti-bullying campaign with a school club "Stand for the Silent," which she wants to serve as a refuge — and confidence booster — for those targeted by bullies.

"I hope it is a place where high schoolers can come out of that room feeling positive about themselves and know that there are other people who feel the way that they do," Scherer said.

Scherer was in a similar group as an eighth-grader at LaCreole Middle School. The club urged students to take a pledge to not bully other students and stop those who do. She lived up to that pledge.

"When I was being bullied that year, she stood up for me to the people who were bullying me," said sophomore Brady Renfro, Alicia's friend and vice president of "Stand for the Silent."

Scherer said 15 students attended Friday's first club meeting — one who admitted he was one of the anonymous bullies posting on the page.

He told the group when Scherer and others talked about how the posts made them feel, he realized what he was doing was potentially harmful, not funny.

Stand for the Silent bracelets include the phrase “I Am Somebody” to help victims feel good about themselves.

Jolene Guzman/Itemizer-Observer

Stand for the Silent bracelets include the phrase “I Am Somebody” to help victims feel good about themselves.

"Now he is really anti-bully," Scherer said. "He said … before that it wasn't clicking with him that what he was saying could hurt the person."

Scherer counts that as another victory.

She said it wasn't the Facebook page, but the documentary "Bully" that first inspired her to take on the cause. The film tells the stories of teens who committed suicide because of bullying. "Bully" also highlighted efforts to overcome bullying, which included organizing local "Stand for the Silent" clubs.

"It's a nationwide program that I decided we really needed a chapter of," Scherer said.

She ordered the organization's bracelets, light blue plastic bands with the words "I am somebody" on them and began giving them to students.

"There were one or two who said, 'That's so lame,' but a lot of kids would smile and say, 'This is so cool,'" she said. "It was really great."

When the Facebook page — which had been taken down before only to reappear — began to attract more attention, Scherer felt it was time to take a more public stand. She contacted television news stations about the page, two of which interviewed her.

Her willingness to step forward led to not only the page being taken down, but showed others they can do the same.

"People need to understand that there is a place they can go if this is happening to them," Scherer said. "I want people to understand that they are not alone."

Renfro added the incident showed that no place — not even a small, tight-knit town like Dallas — is immune to cyberbullying.

"I think she did a pretty amazing thing for this school and the whole community because it is something that we need to learn about," he said. "I believe it did open people's eyes."

Scherer said there was yet another valuable lesson that came out of the incident — something she hopes to share with others through "Stand for the Silent."

"I learned that is not as scary to stand up for yourself and for other people as I thought it would be," she said. "This showed me that I had more courage than I thought."

Resolution reached in Dallas Facebook bullying incident

DALLAS - No charges will be brought against those who were behind the posts on the Facebook page used to bully Dallas-area students -- as long as it doesn't reappear.

Jerry Mott, Dallas Police Department's acting deputy chief, said with the Dallas School District's help, it didn't take long to track down those involved in creating and updating the page. He said the anonymous posters consisted of both juveniles and teens older than 18.

He said the department worked with the teens and their parents to have the page taken down and prevent it from coming back, without criminal charges.

"I do feel it is resolved," he said.

Mott noted cyberbullying incidents are complicated because there is a fine line between what is considered free speech and what is criminal behavior.

"If this were to re-emerge, there would be further exploration of criminal charges," he said.

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