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Conference encourages Arizona students to speak up about bullying

(KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — Speak up, Stand Up, Save a Life. That’s the name and message behind a conference that brought together thousands of students from across Arizona on Tuesday.

“The purpose of this event is to try to empower our youth,” said Gina Godbehere, co-founder of the conference. “We want to let them know that when your friend is in trouble, you’re not being a tattletale. Speaking up is the right thing to do and it may save your friends’ lives.”

More than 3,500 students from across Arizona attended the conference held at Grand Canyon University.

This is the fourth year the conference was held. Students heard from several speakers and broke out into groups to discuss ways they can combat bullying, depression and suicide at their schools.

They also learned about the signs to look for if they believe a friend is in trouble.

“We also want to let everybody know that it’s OK for you not to be OK,” Godbehere said. “We all have stressors in our life. Nobody has a perfect life.”

She said too often students look at social media posts from their peers “and they’re looking at a highlight rail. They have to know that’s not reality.”

Carmina Gregorio, a sophomore at West Point High School in Avondale, was among the students who attended the conference. She agreed that social media impacts students’ self-esteem.

“It kind of makes you want to fit into something you’re not, and it kind of makes you forget what you truly are,” she said.

The 16-year-old added a lot of bullying happens on social media. She said she encourages her peers to speak up and tell a trusted adult if they know someone who’s being bullied.

“You have to let your voice be heard,” Gregorio said. “You can’t be afraid of what others might think of you.”

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