When Susan Guess of Paducah, KY learned that her 8-year-old daughter was being bullied by a classmate, she was devastated.
“I’m a 37-year-old mom, with a very close and open relationship with my child, yet she kept that information private from me,” she said.
Guess asked her daughter Morgan what was going on and was finally told the truth about being bullied at school.
“This was an eye opening experience about how little I and the school knew about bullying,” Guess said. “There was so much ignorance.”
Guess became increasingly concerned about her child and other children who suffer in silence, so she and Morgan decided to open the conversation about bullying and share their story.
Guess met with school leaders to raise awareness about the growing problem of bullying at their school. She also launched an anti-bullying campaign that would raise money to bring the film Bully and Director Lee Hirsch to their town.
For the premiere of Bully in Paducah, the Guess Anti-Bully Fund produced a video asking people to join the movement and say “Not In Our Town.”
“I’m not sure when I first heard the phrase,” Guess said. “But ‘Not in Our Town’ shows people that they can make a difference when they work together.”
Guess spreads her message throughout the community, speaking at local churches and schools about the importance of standing together and taking action against bullying. At the Washington Street Baptist Church, the youth joined Guess by writing pledges to stop bullying.
The Guess Anti-Bully Fund will bring Jodee Blanco, author of the book Please Stop Laughing at Me to Paducah to speak with students, school staff and parents about bullying.
Encouraged by the support of faith leaders, community members, elected officials and school leaders, Susan Guess is now working with the school board to bring anti-bullying activities into the curriculum and include a definition of bullying in the school Code of Conduct. She also plans to meet with Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear to draft a statewide anti-bullying initiative.
“People are initially afraid to inject themselves, but they really do want to make a difference,” Guess said.