By Kristin Bednarski
Batavia High School students heard from former students about the affects of bullying Oct. 22.
The entire school participated in the assembly, which was hosted by Bully No More, a company founded by Matthew Ogletree.
Ogletree, a former Batavia student who now has children in the district, said the goal during the ceremony was to recognize the issue bullying has become and educate students about what can be done to help.
“Bullying over the past several years has become progressively worse,” Matthew Ogletree said. “The suicide rate, especially in Clermont County has increased dramatically.”
Matthew Ogletree said he was exposed to bullying when he was in high school. He said he became involved with the wrong group of friends and made decisions he would later regret, including burglary and other crimes that landed him in a juvenile detention center.
“All of this happened because I didn’t have the appropriate tools,” Matthew Ogletree said about dealing with bullies and peer pressure. “It’s like I am getting a second chance to come here and talk about this.”
Matthew Ogletree, along with his brother Sean, have created Bully No More to help students have access to programs that can help them deal with bullying.
Sean Ogletree listed their organization’s different programs including awareness, effective communication, bridging the gap and standing up.
“There are so many different levels of bullying,” Sean Ogletree said about raising awareness.
He explained that the different programs help students recognize bullying, involve parents and teachers to prevent bullying and teach students how to stand up to bullies.
“It’s a trifecta of what can bring resolution to the problem,” Sean Ogletree said.
During the remainder of the assembly students heard a personal story about bullying from Charles Fribourg, also a former Batavia student, and heard from State Representative Joseph Uecker about bullying legislation.
Uecker discussed the Jessica Logan Act, a law recently passed in Ohio to deal with cyber bullying at Ohio schools.
“You can get jail time,” Uecker told students about cyber bullying.
Students were able to ask questions about what they heard at the end of the presentation, and will later take a survey about how they have experienced bullying in their lives.
“I think it is a nice, new way to get information,” Alex White, a senior, said the assembly.
White said he thought it was helpful because they could see where former students are now after the struggles they dealt with.
“One of the things I take away is it can really change the person,” Hunter Meadors, a senior, said about the bullying presentation. “Whether you are bullying or getting bullied.”
Meadors said he felt the biggest help for students is not just to hear from adults about bullying, but to have students discussing the issue with each other also.
“The biggest help would probably be a student organization,” Meadors said. “Students talking to students.”
Ogletree said once students take the bullying survey, they are hoping to partner with the school to look at what programs could be implemented in the school based on the results of the survey.