CHICAGO (CBS) — About 300 Illinois schools encouraged students to eat lunch with someone new today as a way to stop bullying, but at least one student took efforts even further.
WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports Camille Paddock, a freshman at Huntley High School, shared her own story of standing up to bullies, in hope of saving lives.
For Camille, the bullying started in 4th grade, when she was losing her to alopecia areata, an auto-immune disease that causes the body to attack its own hair follicles, and suppress or stop hair growth.
The bullying continued for three years, from girls who were supposed to be Camille’s friends.
“I got messages telling me to go die, and at that point I did want to die,” she said.
She didn’t act on her suicidal thoughts, though.
“I couldn’t do that to all my friends, and my family,” she said.
Camille said complaints to the school weren’t handled successfully.
“We had lots of, I would say, counseling sessions that didn’t really work, because they would just walk out and be like ‘See Camille, you can’t get us in trouble,’” she said.
Last year, she decided to form the non-profit “Cam’s Dare To Be Different,” and now speaks to groups about bullying.
“I didn’t want to be a victim anymore. I wanted to stand up for all the kids who didn’t have a voice, and I wanted to stand up for myself, too,” Camille said.
She spoke to students at Carmel High School in Mundelein on Monday, to spread the message that it’s okay to be different.
“Every person in the world is different, and that’s what makes us who we are as individuals,” she said.
Camille said social media all-too-often gives bullies a platform.
“It’s just easier for kids to do that, and they have no fear behind the computer,” she said. “People don’t understand that words hurt, and they can kill. Like, so many kids go home just because they’re being verbally bullied, and kill themselves because of it.”