Kaitlyn Bentivegna

1:19 PM, Mar 22, 2011   |    comments
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That, according to 2011 9Kids Who Care recipient Kaitlyn Bentivegna, is enough to label her as a bully. She never took part in ending the widespread practice, and therefore, she was a part of the problem.

Today, you can throw away all stereotypes you may have about teenage girls at Mesa Middle School in Castle Rock living for the latest school gossip. Not only does Kaitlyn resist gossiping, she also single handedly initiated an anti-bullying campaign called Stop.The.Talk. The program asks students to stop spreading rumors, gossip, or bullying other students.

It all started at a school retreat, when she had a heart-to-heart with a peer who she had judged because of things she had heard through rumors and gossip.

"I saw some people I judged, and had used stereotypes on. I saw my judgment and rumors. They had real lives. The keyword was real. I look at all the people around me and realized, these people are real," Kaitlyn said.

From this, she formed Agents for Change, a committee of about 30 students that meet weekly to discuss ways to stop bullying. Via Skype, the group has spread its program to dozens of middle schools in three different states.

"The big picture is yes, end bullying. But also, it's that sense of feeling a kid can walk into school and know, as they walk by, nobody is talking about them behind their back," Kaitlyn said.

Kaitlyn created the entire campaign by designing a website, Facebook page, as well as a video to get the entire Mesa Middle School involved.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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