Jefferson teen continues mission to stop bullying
Whether it’s done over social media or in the schoolyard, bullying affects many children, both in the local community and nationally.
That’s why Lexi Openshaw, a Jefferson High School junior, is organizing her third annual Shine the Light Stop Bullying Walk, slated for Saturday.
Openshaw said the walk, which begins at 9 a.m. at St. Agnes Church on Duke Street in Shepherdstown, is meant to raise awareness and show community solidarity against bullying.
“Three years ago, I was thinking about a way to get the whole community involved in stopping bullying, and I came up with the idea for the walk,” Openshaw said.
Openshaw, Miss Black Diamond’s Outstanding Teen, has adopted an anti-cyberbullying platform, “Think Before You Click,” and speaks at local schools to raise awareness-and help combat bullying.
Like many children, Openshaw herself has been a victim of bullying.
In elementary school, she was called names on the playground. Later on, in middle school, Openshaw said she was bullied again.
“I dealt with it by talking to my parents about what was going on,” she said. “I have a good relationship with my parents, so I went to them. A lot of kids might not have that kind of relationship with their parents.”
On her Think Before You Click blog, www.thinkbeforeyouclickit.wordpress.com, Openshaw offers tips to cope with bullying.
“The final step in my four-step program is to tell a parent or trusted adult,” she said.
According to Openshaw, 14.8 percent of West Virginia high school students reported being bullied, with the majority of bullying taking place over social media.
Nationally, one in four children between the ages of 12 and 17 report being bullied, she said.
“If you’re being bullied, know that you’re not alone. You can get so much support from your family and friends if you just open up and ask for help. If you keep the pain bottled up inside, you’ll feel worse,” Openshaw said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and things will get better.”
The walk is free and open to the public, and no registration is required. Walkers are asked to wear purple to show their support for victims of bullying. The Shine the Light Stop Bullying Walk will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at St. Agnes Church in Shepherdstown, and end at the church, with refreshments served in the Parish center after the walk.