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Scappoose High student earns accolades for anti-bullying video

Kayla Miller speaks out after being alerted to student mockery, harassment on social media app

Photo Credit: STILL FRAME FROM FACEBOOK VIDEO - Kayla Miller, a junior at Scappoose High School, speaks to the camera during a video she filmed on her cell phone decrying 'cyberbullying' at her school and encouraging fellow students to be kind to one another.After teachers at Scappoose High School read a letter to all students from the school's principal denouncing online bullying of students via a social media application, junior Kayla Miller went home and recorded a video that evening to share her thoughts.

Miller's emotionally charged video — a grainy close-up, filmed on her cell phone, in which she addresses the camera for about five and a half minutes — has been viewed more than 50,000 times and shared on Facebook by more than 2,000 users. In it, the teenager chastises the student body at her school for bullying on the Streetchat app, which has become popular on many campuses this year, and urges her peers to show more respect for one another.

“I thought we had this all under control,” Miller says in the video. “Scappoose High School is supposed to be a safe place to be at where we're all a huge family. What's going on with that?”

In the video, Miller refers to bullying as “an epidemic” and blames it for driving teens to suicide.

“You can change,” she says, addressing the viewer. “You can save someone. From this point on, instead of the [ALS] Ice Bucket Challenge, instead of all these other challenges, I challenge you to make a difference. I challenge everyone in Scappoose High School to make a difference. … Give everyone a compliment — everyone.”

Miller says people should not face bullying and discrimination for their sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, the way they dress or the way they act.

“Nobody is worthless,” she says in the video. “I want to make that straight. I want to make that clear as crystal. Everyone is worth everything.”

Miller's video was recorded after Andy DeBois, Scappoose High's principal, penned a letter that was read to students and sent out to parents and guardians Wednesday, Oct. 1.

DeBois' letter said the Streetchat app “created a disruption to the learning environment.” The app, it stated, allows users to post pictures and captions anonymously in a social media environment.

“Unfortunately this app was used to harass many of our students,” DeBois wrote. “A majority of these negative posts were to and from our own student body.”

The letter also referred to an assembly led by KOIN 6 News, the Spotlight's news partner, to promote school spirit Friday, Sept. 26.

“The behavior demonstrated today is not a common occurrence at Scappoose High School,” DeBois wrote of the Streetchat snafu, adding, “The ... pep assembly where 600 students attended and showed [solidarity] around Breast Cancer Awareness is a true representation that we see in our hallways and classrooms each and every day.”

DeBois did not return a call requesting comment before press time.

However, Barbara Miller, Kayla's mother, said she and her daughter met with the principal. Kayla's video has the school administration's support, she said.

“I myself am very proud of her for what she's done, and I feel great about it,” said Barbara Miller. “She's speaking for others, and she's speaking for herself.”

Kayla Miller said she wants to fight back against the Streetchat harassment and all forms of bullying.

“I just felt like I needed to say something, because it was getting out of hand,” she said. “Especially after the administration sent out a letter trying to make this app go away, trying to make everyone stop using it the way it was being used … I guess it must have encouraged people more, to do this more.”

Kayla Miller said it was “disturbing and terrifying” to discover that students were mocking and insulting each other on Streetchat, which she said she was unaware of before Wednesday. But she said most of the student body is not involved.

“It's not everyone in the high school,” she said. “It's a handful, a very small handful, of kids who just decided to not make the best of choices, and to be immature.”

Students wore blue to school Monday, Oct. 6, as a show of solidarity against bullying.

Although several insulting comments were posted on Streetchat aimed at Miller after she posted her video, many users of the app took up the anti-bullying message as well.

Miller said she has dealt with bullying for most of her life.

While Miller's self-shot video has already gathered plenty of attention on social media, she hopes to keep the cause going.

“I have a challenge, and I want this to go out to everyone. And it's like the Ice Bucket Challenge, except I want them to compliment their fellow students, their friends, people who don't have friends — that person who is sitting in the corner, that person who is sitting at a lunch table by themselves — [go over] and compliment them,” she said, reiterating her words in the video.

If people are so inclined, she added, she would like them to share their positive words on social media with the hashtag #kaylaschallenge or #savealife.

But Miller has had it with Streetchat.

“I'm really hoping that we can get this app taken down, because it's mainly just used for bullying. And I'm hoping that this can get out to the world … that this issue can come to a stop,” she said. “Bullying should not be an epidemic these days.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

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