In the United States, 1 in 5 students ages 12-18 have been bullied during the school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This number is rising, too, for children in Elementary School who are between the ages of 6 and 11.
In 2009, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners created the Anti-Bullying Advisory Committee to develop a comprehensive plan to address bullying within our community. This committee created the Anti-Bullying Recognition Award, which honors a young person or group of young people for their commitment to eliminate bullying.
This past year, the Board named Emma Campbell, a fifth-grade student at Lawton Chiles Elementary School, as the recipient of the 2022 Anti-Bullying Recognition Award. Celebrated for the way she demonstrated leadership, advocacy and intervention efforts, Emma is also known by her peers as a friend that will defend them if they are being teased.
Learn more about how you can nominate an incredible child or teen in Hillsborough County who has gone above and beyond to battle bullying in our community: 2023 Anti-Bullying Award nominations
We would love to get to know you! Tell us about yourself.
Emma Campbell: Hello, my name is Emma Campbell. I am eleven years old, and I attend Chiles Elementary School. I have an older sister that I look up to and a younger sister that I look after, and we are best friends. Around this time last year, my parents surprised us by bringing home the cutest dachshund; his name is Milo. I have a big loving family, and we get to see each other all the time.
Please share the story of your recent recognition- what it is, what it means to you, and how you earned it.
Emma Campbell: In October 2022, I was invited to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners office. I was so excited because I was receiving an award that my teachers nominated me for. I got to meet our superintendent of schools, Addison Davis, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff, Chad Chronister. I met a lot of other nice people that were so proud of me. I felt amazing and inspired to continue to do good things in the world.
The award I received was the Anti-Bullying Recognition Award. My fourth-grade teachers, Ms. Jones and Ms. Williams nominated me for this award because I was a good friend to my classmates and stood up for my peers when they were being made fun of or when they felt left out. I always tried to help, and I did not like to see anyone sad at school.
What is the process for applying for the award?
Emma Campbell: I never knew this award existed. My teachers sent in the nomination and my mom told me that I was a finalist! I am glad it was a surprise to me because it made it that much more special. When I learned about this award, I was glad that adults created this recognition because it teaches kids about what is important and that is to be kind to each other.
What are some of the most concerning examples you see of bullying? In your opinion, what are ways kids can do better to prevent or stop it from happening at their schools?
Emma Campbell: In my school, I do not think we have bullies. But sometimes kids make fun of each other and laugh without realizing that this might really be hurting someone’s feelings. Other times, kids talk behind each other’s backs. Kids can do better by stopping and thinking about how they would feel if classmates said mean things about them, laughing and making fun of them.
We must be more considerate because we do not know what other kids are going through. There could be problems at home and when they are picked on at school, that just makes things worse. If you see bullying happening, try to tell an adult and stand up for what is right and lead by example.
How do you think people become bullies? What do you think schools can do better to help them?
Emma Campbell: Some people become bullies because they are jealous or because they are also going through problems, so they make others feel bad to make their own problems seem smaller in comparison. Schools can help bullies by teaching them that it is okay to get mad or jealous, but it is not okay to take things out on others. Schools can teach bullies to appreciate themselves and to be grateful for what they have, because there is always someone that is worse off than them.
Why do you think bullying is such a major focus for schools, parents and students—even government and nonprofit organizations?
Emma Campbell: Bullying is a big focus for everyone because some kids that are bullied get so sad that they hurt themselves. Also, we want to stop bullying when kids are young so that young bullies do not become adult bullies. Bullying makes people feel unsafe. Everyone deserves the right to feel safe where they go to school and where they live.
What do you enjoy doing outside of school?
Emma Campbell: In school, I love participating in chorus and running club. I am also a safety patrol, of course. Outside of school, I play soccer for my church league, and I also attend dance class once a week. Something that I like to do at home is bake. My favorite dessert is chocolate!
What is your favorite thing to do with your family in Tampa?
Emma Campbell: My family is so important to me. They teach me right from wrong. They also help me when I am struggling. I love going to the beach with my family. My favorite beach is Coquina Beach in Sarasota. I also like to go to theme parks. My favorite roller coaster is the Velocicoaster at Universal Orlando. I know I am lucky to have the family that I have. I wish all kids could have great families, but if they do not, then at least they can have one true friend.
- Bullying Facts and How to Report a Bully in Tampa Bay
- New Game Helps Educate Parents and Kids about Cyberbullying-How your family can get the game
Photo Credit: PWilsonPhotography | Originally published in April 2023 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.