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Jarrett Payton speaks at Schaumburg High School anti-bullying event

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October is National Bullying Prevention month and students at Schaumburg High School are hearing from someone who says he's experienced it first-hand. He's a man with a well-known name to Chicagoans: the son of Bears great, Walter Payton.

He wants to get kids talking about the subject of bullying, and how to stop it. He's the son of a famous dad-- a football star-- but Jarrett Payton recalls the pressure from other teens he felt in high school. It wasn't always easy.

"I've actually sat in their shoes. I've been through what they've been through, so they know it's coming from the heart," said Jarrett Payton, anti-bullying speaker.

And here at Schaumburg High School, as in any school, students know bullying is an issue that needs to be addressed.

"It's a big problem, but I think not as many people acknowledge it as they should," said Erin Kelly, 10th grader.

"I've been bullied, I've bullied. We can all fall into that situation for sure," said Nidhin Thomas, 11th grader.

And bullying is no longer the big kid on the playground. Online and social media play a big role in cyber-bullying, with bullies often hiding behind a mask of anonymity.

"It's not a face-to-face type thing. It's more, I can be at home, I'm angry at this individual, so I can send hurtful comments and that way I don't have to face them," said Matthew Christenson, Schaumburg High School police consultant.

These students on Wednesday are signing an anti-bullying pledge agreeing not to bully, but also not to simply stand by when they see it happen-- and to realize they have more in common than any differences.

"Just because somebody doesn't dress like you or look like or be in the same clique as you, everybody deals with the same emotions and the same types of issues as a teenager," said Kelly Carleton, health education teacher.

According to one national survey, nearly a third of students say they've been bullied on a regular basis.

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