EARLY YEARS: October is National Bullying Prevention Month

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - "Kids will just walk around and push you around and just like, call you names just for the fun of it."

Cooper, a Roanoke County seventh grader says he's been bullied at school, and has reported the incidents to teachers and administrators

Cooper, a Roanoke County seventh grader is not alone.
Sadly, bullying happens to a lot of kids.

"They'll go say, 'Oh, you're too tall for this and that and you're too big and they'll push you if you're using the bathroom or something like that," says Cooper.

Bullying is defined as a repeated abuse of power.
StopBullying.gov says between one in four and one in three U.S. students say they've been bullied at school. Most bullying happens in middle school. And, the most common types are verbal and social bullying.

Cooper says now that he's in middle school, it's gotten worse.

"As the kids get older, they think they're more, they have more power because they're older and so they'll want to pick on you more."

Former Roanoke County School Board member and Pastor Tom McCracken is helping the school system battle the problem.

"About five years ago, I really started to get interested. I had children in the school, and I saw it firsthand, you know, the effects of bullying," says McCracken.

After doing doctoral research on bullying, McCracken says he found that peer intervention is key to prevention.

"Just a couple of weeks ago, and I think it was in New York, there was a stabbing and 50 to 70 kids filmed it while this young man died. He was stabbed to death. And you have all the witnesses around watching, filming, they don't know what to do," he says.

McCracken says if kids are willing to speak up, 60 percent of the time, bullying will stop within 10 seconds.

And creating a culture that doesn't support bullying is crucial.
That's why Roanoke County Schools is handing out 16 thousand bracelets that read "Expect Respect."

As for Cooper, he's not letting bullies stop him from going after what he wants.

"I play football, and I'm going to try out for the basketball and baseball team."

Copyright 2019 WDBJ7. All rights reserved.