Kara Arnold placed in the top 15 last month at the Miss America Pageant, and she is a soon-to-be medical student at the University of Utah. She said there are more children impacted by bullying than just the bully and the victim.
“We often focus on the bully or the victim, but there’s so many kids right in the middle that may even be influenced by the bully, but they’re not actually bullying,” Arnold said.
Students from Utah Valley University are promoting a campaign called “Pick on This,” and Arnold is helping spread the message. Throughout this month the students will be speaking at schools around the valley about their stories and anti-bullying tactics.
Arnold said she was one of those children caught in the middle when she was in first grade.
“We were mean to this little girl, and I don’t think I realized that I was being mean,” she said. “I was just following that group.”
Arnold said what she did counts as bullying, and she said her mother was the one who pointed out her actions. After that Arnold made an effort to stop being mean, and she and the girl became friends.
Arnold hopes to encourage kids in similar situations to speak up or take action when they know something is wrong.She said many of these kids are probably opposed to bullying, but they might be scared to go against the crowd.
“Those are the kids we can work on and work with because those are the kids that can turn around and help that victim,” she said.
Arnold said those who are being bullied should remember they are more than a bully’s actions or words.
“Focus on what you have,” she said. “Focus on the amazing aspects of you, and I think that will give you the confidence to put aside and ignore those comments.”