For Girl Scout Diana Grande, spreading the word about bullying has been her passion.
The 17-year-old senior at Lenape High School took on the task of educating people in her school district about bullying in part to earn the Gold Award, the highest award a girl scout can earn. It is equivalent to Eagle Scout for boys.
Grande, who was just approved for the award, said only 4 percent actually achieve it. She also spent 65 hours total working on the project.
Grande said she saw that Governor Chris Christie passed an anti-bullying law earlier this year.
“I thought it would be a good idea and it would be impactful if I spread the word about the law throughout the school and educated people about it,” she said.
Grande sent flyers to all schools in the district and got a little help from State Sen. Diane Allen with research.
“My entire life I’ve been very against bullying and I have experiences in my life where I’ve witnessed it,” Grande said. “It’s definitely prevalent in my school so I thought it was something my school really needed to hear.”
So why do kids become bullies?
“Honestly, some kids just aren’t educated about it,” Grande said. “I don’t fully blame it on the kids themselves.”
She said she has heard of cases of teachers bullying students.
“I think it’s just passed around,” Grande said. “Kids just need to be taught by their educators about it because they’re not.”
She said she has received a good response from schools and was thanked by a vice principal and guidance counselor for her efforts.
“Some teachers didn’t even know about it,” Grande said. “They were very appreciative.”
Her advice is to not necessarily confront a bully but report the action and noted teachers can get in trouble for not reporting.
“It’s a really big deal,” Grande said. “Everyone should be reporting and it should not be overlooked even if you think it may not be bullying.”
She belongs to Troop 26739 of Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey.
A scout since first grade, Grande said she has learned a lot from troop leader Julie Williamson.
“She’s taught me a lot about leadership and life,” Grande said. “It’s definitely developed me as a person.”
While she is not sure which college she will attend next fall. Grande said she wants to study special education. And she will still do community service with her troop.
Connie Grande, Diana’s mother, said her daughter took some time figuring out what she wanted to do for her project.
“We were very pleased to know that it was something that she was going to be able to use in school and something that she would able to spread the word about in school,” Connie said. “We were very happy with it.”
She also said, through scouts, Diana has met a diverse array of people.
“I think the Girl Scouts have really brought a lot of education, character,” Connie said. “I think it’s a fantastic organization.”