By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL email@example.com
---- — GOSHEN — Blue pinkies have popped up at Goshen Middle School.
By painting their pinky fingernails blue, students and staff have pledged to stand up against bullying at their school.
The blue nails are part of a nationwide movement to combat bullying between girls, said GMS counselor Jan Desmarais-Morse.
“I feel happy that a lot of people are doing it,” said sixth-grader Rebecca Dixon.
Girls have taken the “pinky swear,” a symbolic gesture, which means they are going to do their part to not be a bully and speak up when someone is being bullied, Desmarais-Morse added.
“Girl bullying and boy bullying are different. Boy aggression is more physical,” the counselor said. “Girl aggression is more relational — ostracizing, name calling, spreading rumors and gossip — that kind of thing.”
GMS has joined other schools across the country in taking part of Secret deodorant company’s Mean Stinks campaign.
Secret provided a 15-minute film called “Meanamorphosis,” posters, T-shirts and other supplies for the program.
“The video is quite good. Every time she (girl in video) is mean, she begins to stink,” Desmarais-Morse said. “Then she realizes she stinks and changes her ways.”
All the female students watched the film at a special assembly and then decided if they wanted a blue pinky as a reminder to stomp out bullying, the counselor said.
“This is a way to encourage students to do the right thing. I believe they have an inner desire to be kind,” Desmarais-Morse said, “but they need encouragement to have courage to stand out and protect. This will increase awareness and provide the opportunity to talk. I hope kids have the courage to be quiet leaders, if not outspoken within their own circle of friends to make a difference.”
Some of the teachers and staff have seen a difference with the participants since the campaign began in November.
“Students are standing up for themselves more and not with their fists,” said Stephanie Hoover, seventh-grade English teacher. “They are talking about it (bullying).”
Sixth-grade counselor Jennifer Johnson voiced similar observations.
“It’s empowering the bystanders,” Johnson said. “They are making more reports (about bullying incidents), as well.”
Both seventh-grader Maria Rangel and sixth-grader Kyanna Bontrager described a bully the same way.
“A bully doesn’t care how other people feel. A bully thinks they are cool,” Maria said.
“No, a bully isn’t cool and they aren’t happy with themselves,” Kyanna said.
Having a blue pinky has helped seventh-grader Cassandra Lopez with her self-esteem.
“I feel like I fit in and I can talk about it with my friends,” Cassandra said.
A group of girls stood together with their blue pinkies held high.
“It’s a pinky promise. It’s a good idea,” said seventh-grader Karla Rodriguez. “I look at it everyday and it reminds me.”
Desmarais-Morse said she tries to make the distinction between bullying and conflict with the school body. A lot of times situations are called bullying that are actually conflict or a disagreement, she added.
“We need to better educate our kids what the difference is between them,” the counselor said.