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Students set out to stop bullying

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OOLTEWAH, HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- Bullying is far and away the biggest concern heard about from parents and students these days but the definition of bullying has changed in recent years.

It's no longer just physical, young people do a lot of damage with the words they say, and the slurs they use. 

A student group at Ooltewah High is setting out to change that.

Ooltewah High School's service learning class is only a dozen students strong, but they are sending a powerful message to young people everywhere.  Certain words have dehumanizing and harmful effects,  like the word "retarded."

"You're probably not saying it to hurt....get rid of that," says Ajay Makwana.

Inspired by the TV show Glee, the Ooltewah students are part of a national campaign called "Spread the Word to End the Word." 

Teacher Michael Franks has a daughter with special needs, and has felt the pain of hurtful words.

"And she came home one day.... And that was heartbreaking," says Franks.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where slurs and insults are common in school hallways, and even in pop culture, movies and entertainment. These students admit they endure criticism from peers when spreading their message.  They say it's time someone spoke out, and they're hoping other schools join in to end the R-word.

"Well there's always going to be a few....this was a success," says Nathan Park.

For more information on this project, visit r-word.org.

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