14-year-old Rachel Sampson has been voted homecoming princess at her high school in Poway in southern California. Rachel has Asperger’s Syndrome; as her mother, Kathleen Sampson, says of her, “Rachel has a lot of friends, but she doesn’t socialize outside of school, that’s a little too difficult for her right now.” As a cruel prank, some students put Rachel’s name on the ballot for homecoming princess. But then, after other students learned about this, they rallied and voted for Rachel — and she won.
NBC Actions News interviewed Rachel:
Rachel wasn’t discouraged [about the prank]. “I decided that if it was a mean joke, it would drive those kids really nuts if I actually won and had a lot of fun with it.”
Rachel’s mom got on Facebook and spread the word about what happened. It went viral.
“The community of Poway and the students at Poway High School do not tolerate bullying, and they made that very clear with their voting,” Kathleen said.
And if Rachel thought she had a lot of friends before, she’s certainly got a lot more now.
“I’m just hoping that other kids who have been bullied are going to get a message from this and other kids who are bullies realize what they’re doing is wrong,” Rachel said.
In other words, some Poway High School students’ attempt to intimidate and mock Rachel did not just backfire, but has had a positive outcome, to say the least.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Sadly, too many cases of bullying do not have an upbeat ending like Rachel’s. What especially stands out is how other students and the school community quickly reacted on behalf of her and thereby turned a mean-spirited prank into a statement of solidarity. What if other — if most, if all — school communities took such a stance against bullying and showed that being a bully is something people refuse to tolerate?
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