Local teen teaches kids to battle bullying with kindness
A teenager from Oregon City has come up with her own solution to bullying: a campaign to teach kindness to kids.
"They love to know that they're doing something that's helping others, as well as themselves," said 14-year-old Madisyn Montgomery, who started the campaign called "Continue to Find Kindness" last year.
Montgomery said she spoke at two Oregon City elementary schools during the last school year and plans to speak at seven to 10 more this year.
"I love seeing them learn to be a better person and learn to be not to be a bully and to be kind and to revolutionize kindness," said Montgomery.
Montgomery focuses on girls in the fourth and fifth grades.
In her presentation, she shows the girls some of the bullying comments that kids are saying to other kids in Oregon City, like, "You're fat," and, "You're ugly."
Then she shows them what they can say instead -- compliments, like, "You're the best," and "I love what you're wearing."
"We give examples to the girls so that they have something they can feed off of and spread for themselves," said Montgomery.
She said some girls started before they even left the assembly room.
"They were coming up to each other and saying, 'I like your scarf,' or, 'I like your hat,' or, 'Do you want to hang out this weekend?' Things like that, and it kind of pumped them up and built confidence and made them happy," said Montgomery. "They wanted to immediately start using these compliments."
She said she explains what bullying is, and how to deal with it. For example, by getting an adult, staying calm, and not responding with ugliness.
"To never answer back to those negative comments and become a bully yourself. To ignore what they're saying," said Montgomery.
She also advocates for kids to apologize, to accept apologies, to find a friend and to be a friend.
"To look around and just see who needs a friend. And be that friend. Be the person who goes up to them and says, 'I like your hair,' or, 'I like the shirt you're wearing today," said Montgomery.
She said she goes back to the schools she's spoken at and surveys the girls again. She sees positive changes.
"We've discovered that it touches so many more girls than we thought it would. And their moms are constantly saying they are doing so much better in school," said Montgomery.
She started it as a Girl Scout project, but now that the scout project is over, she is continuing the campaign.
"I like to see that they're responding so positively to what I'm teaching them and that they're very happy to be a part of something so great and positive," said Montgomery.
Montgomery has set up a Facebook page for Continue to Find Kindness.