NewsLocal News / November 4, 2013

Workshop Outlines Impact Of Student Bullying

Three hundred school kids came to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis Monday to learn about the impact of bullying. Jeanne White-Ginder was the keynote speaker. Her son Ryan made national headlines in the 1980s during his battle with AIDS. 2013-11-04T00:00:00-05:00
Workshop Outlines Impact Of Student Bullying

More than two decades after her son passed away from AIDS, Jeanne White-Ginder still gets emotional when she recounts the bullying he experienced.

"To see how far people would go - flatten themselves against lockers, pointing at Ryan saying 'now you have it, now you have it,' and see the different vandalisms like on his locker and trash dumped in our yard and bullet holes shot through our window - just because people were afraid of a disease that people were not educated on," she said.

But, Ryan White never let the words and actions of others keep him down.  In fact, it made him fight harder.

"He said 'when you don't know about something, you are going to be afraid of it,'" said White-Ginder.  "And, that's why he said we need to continue to educate."

Monday, White-Ginder shared her son's story with 300 fifth through eighth graders at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. It was part of a day long workshop to encourage young people to stand up against bullying.

"Increasingly we are seeing that it is a problem in schools," said Museum Vice President of Experience Development and Family Learning, Jennifer Pace Robinson.  "We want to show that we have 300 kids here today who are going to make a vow to stop bullying in their schools and they are going to stand up."

"We really want to change the negative to a positive.  There is no better time."

Ginder-White sees an evolution of bullying. She says she was teased as a child because of her weight and Ryan would receive hate mail because of the AIDS virus which he contracted through a blood transfusion. But, now her main concern is the power of social media and the damage it can cause a young person who is being bullied.

"It's now more or less cyber bullying, but kids are bullied no matter what just because you are a little bit different - and we are all so different - I think people don't really have to have a topic now," said White-Ginder.  "I think a lot of it is jealousy.  I think of a lot of it is trying to be funny, but they don't realize the consequences from what they are doing might really hurt somebody."

Holy Spirit eighth grader Taylor Brown, 14, attended the event and says she will take the message and the tools learned and apply them back at school.

"It's kind of complicated because you don't want people looking at you like 'oh my gosh she's a tattletale,' but you have to stand up and you have to do the right thing," said Brown.  "If you are a leader you are going to step up."

"It's kind of a big thing because if (bullying) does happen to you, it can take major tolls on you and affect who you are as a person and your attitude towards everything."



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