Shawnna Figlo is one of many teens across the country who have dealt with the nationwide epidemic of bullying. The 15-year-old Falls Township teen says she’s changed schools three times and refuses to go on Facebook.
“I got kicked in the bathroom, I got pushed downstairs, I got my arm broken, I got my foot broken and fingers slammed in lockers,” said Figlo.
Figlo claims she was so badly bullied by her classmates her middle school guidance counselor didn’t believe her.
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“How would I make it up?” asked Figlo. “You think I gave myself a bruise, sat in my classroom and punched myself in the face?”
Figlo says she hid the bullying from her mother for months; embarrassed and worried, knowing her mother would be upset if she found out. She was right.
“My mom went to police, my mom went to the board, my mom went to everyone she could” said Figlo. “Everyone was like ‘We don’t know how to handle it.’”
One of her principals offered her a solution however, the Peace Center in Langhorne, which specializes in bullying prevention.
“Some of these schools are so large they might not get the additional attention they need,” said Bullying Prevention Specialist Marianne Elias. “That’s where the Peace Center has the ability to meet with students and meet with adults.”
The Peace Center has been so successful in helping teachers, parents, students and police officers deal with bullying that they’ve recently received a federal grant. The grant will fund a bullying resource center for the next 15 months.
“We’ve got intervention methods that bring together not only the bully and the victim but the families,” said Barbara Simmons of the Peace Center.
The Peace Center’s goal is to help anyone in Bucks County who is bullied or concerned about bullying. They’ve hired additional counselors with the grant. They say they’ll continue to meet with victims such as Shawnna and empower them.
“It really makes you feel really good about yourself at the end,” said Shawnna. “You see you can conquer it and you’re way stronger than you’ve ever been.”
For more information, visit the Peace Center website.