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PLYMOUTH, Minn. -- "Go ahead and sign your names anywhere," urged Debbie Dragseth, a school counselor at Plymouth Middle School in the Robbinsdale School District.

She's surrounded by students eager to grab a pen and place their names on a banner that will hang in the school cafeteria, pledging to help stop bullying in their school.

Assistant Principal Erick Norby says it is the perfect age to target. "85-percent of all students feel like they've been bullied sometime in their middle school life," he said.

National Bullying Prevention month is a campaign created by Minnesota-basedPacer Center in 2006. The effort has grown from one week to a month long endeavor schools have latched onto nationwide.

While Plymouth Middle School has long focused on the prevention of bullying, staff members doubled down on their efforts this year.

"We've done little things," said school counselor Debbie Dragseth. "Lessons in the classroom, but not banners for kids to sign, not t-shirts for teachers to wear, and wristbands for kids to wear."

Every child who signed the banner got wristband with the acronym "S.A.F.E." printed on it. The message reminds students to Say what you feel, Ask for help, Find a friend and Exit the area.

School counselors also want students to know this message is not just for kids targeted by bullies, it's something any student can use to help someone else.

"We think the kids who are bystanders, who witness what's happening, really are the kids that are the most powerful," Dragseth said.

Sixth grader Mya Erickson wants to stand up against bullies, but also knows it's a challenge. "You want to say something, but at the same time, you don't because you think they might bully you for a different reason."

Dragseth says there are ways bystanders can make a difference without putting themselves in danger. "They could be in proximity. It could mean putting their arm around a friend, it could be saying something after the fact."

Norby says it's important students let staff know what is going on so the school can address bullying. Norby often works with students to understand how hurtful their actions are. He says many times by working with students and parents, the problem is usually solved.

"The frustrating part of bullying is when kids don't realize what they said or how it can be hurtful," Norby added.

Sixth grader Kadiejay Kamara understands that feeling. She was bullied in second and third grade, so she believes she would definitely speak up for another student who is bullied.

"I know how it feels," she said. "It really hurts your feelings and you kind of feel like you're not like a part of this world."

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