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Local teen's anti-bullying resolution approved by state board of education
Federal Way teen Kajmere Houchins' goal of including students in the process of creating anti-bullying policies in schools got a significant boost earlier this month.
The Washington State Board of Education (WSBE) approved Houchins' resolution to include students in the process. After Houchins' presentation to the WSBE in September, the issue was handed over to WSBE student board members Mara Childs and Eli Ulmer.
From their perspective, Houchins' resolution made perfect sense, according to a release from the WSBE.
"The ways in which kids interact with each other are changing quickly and it is hard for adults to keep up," Childs said in a news release. "Anonymous question sites, social media, texts, and instant messages are a recipe for bullying. Kids are ahead of the game when it comes to technology and they hold the most weight in changing student behavior."
Ulmer noted that bullying has a ripple effect in school communities, which creates even more stress and worry among students.
"Bullying doesn't affect just the bully and their target. There are also others around them who witness the aggression," Ulmer said. "It affects everyone and can cause attendance issues, is a distraction, creates stress and anxiety and makes you feel alone."
Houchins tackled the problem following her own experiences with bullying in her short life. A number of issues in her life have made her a target of bullying, among them her extended absences from school due to her battles with cancer, which meant she got held back a grade.
In an earlier interview with The Mirror, Houchins noted that her diminutive size and her non-traditional family life made her a target of bullies as well.
For now, Houchins is extremely happy the WSBE adopted her resolution.
"As they voted on my resolution, I was like 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe I just did this!' Houchins wrote in an email to The Mirror. "I think starting this at a young age will prepare me for things when I get older and not a lot of kids can say they made a state law. I'm one of the few that can and is really important to me."
She added: "I'm looking forward to my next achievement and how big it will be. I was the kid who overcame cancer and now I can move past that and say I've done something else."
Houchins' mother, Julie Smith, said she's incredibly proud of her daughter for standing up and changing things for the better.
"As Kajmere's mother, I am beyond proud. I wasn't sure if she understood how big of an accomplishment it was so we talked about it," Smith wrote in an email to The Mirror. "I smiled so much my face hurt and I teared up as I tried to take pictures and seeing the resolution on the screen was beautiful. It was real. Everyone was so excited for her and the teens who wrote the official resolution kept it as true to what she asked for as possible."
Houchins' contribution to the anti-bullying effort can be found in the Revised Code of Washington 28A.300.285. The RCW states that a district's anti-bullying "policy and procedure should be adopted or amended through a process that includes representation of parents or guardians, school employees, volunteers, students, administrators and community representatives."
To keep track of what Houchins might tackle next, visit www.thepowercave.com.