St. Louis, MO – Sept. 7 – From stealing lunch money to posting harmful comments on social media, bullying has evolved through the years and can have a damaging toll on students, teachers, caregivers and the wider community. However, 20 Warrenton High School students are taking a stance against this behavior by spending the upcoming school year working toward preventing bullying and creating a more inclusive environment.
This year, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri is partnering with Warrenton High School to bring its Community Outreach Program, Transform UR Future (TUF), to the student body. TUF expands upon Girl Scouts’ Project Anti-Violence Education (PAVE) program with a focus on bullying prevention and intervention. While bullying among girls has decreased overall, cyberbullying has increased, according to the Girl Scout Research Institute.
TUF aligns a trio of schools within a district—a high school combined with an elementary and a middle school and is offered to male and female students. A core group of high school peer leaders, known as Transformers, learn about anti-violence, decision-making skills and bullying; act as mentors for their peers; and deliver anti-violence workshops to middle and elementary school students.
Warrenton High School’s principal, Dr. Loraine Raziq, is responsible for bringing TUF to several school districts over the years. She said she works with Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri to secure TUF programming within the schools because of the impact the program has on kids. Raziq said the Girl Scouting experience that comes with participating in TUF gives students opportunities to develop leadership skills.
“I saw the changes that TUF has on kids, not just the ones who were becoming mentors, but the little guys who got to have a connection with an older role model,” Raziq said. “You can see those little eyes being opened and those connections being made.”
Raziq said the number of Warrenton High School students who registered as Transformers will help create a solid foundation for the program in the coming years. In her experience, she said students share positive stories about TUF with their friends and classmates, ensuring there are always enough kids to fill the gaps when one graduates and leaves the program.
Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri began TUF in 2013 with eight trios of schools. Since then, the program has now grown to include 13 trios of schools during the 2017-2018 school year.