Paducah, KY girl gains national recognition for anti-bullying efforts

(KFVS) - A girl in Paducah is on a mission to stop bullying - and her efforts have led to a change in Kentucky law and have gotten her national recognition.

Morgan Guess is one of ten youth in the U.S. to receive the Hasbro Community Action Hero.

"I'm so grateful for everything that's happened, but I also know that there's so much more that we need to do," said Morgan Guess, eighth grader at Lone Oak Middle School.

She knows first hand how painful bullying can be.

"Whenever the bullying was actually happening, you know, I couldn't imagine surviving beyond the day," Morgan said.

"She didn't tell anyone," her mother Susan Guess said. "By the time we discovered it, she was having stomach spasms and panic attacks and her doctor diagnosed her as clinically depressed. So at 8 years old, we had to make the tough decision to put her on anti-depressants."

Morgan wants to be a voice for others and promote kindness.

"I'm doing it for those kids out there who still don't have a voice," she said. "I hope that me being lifted up means that they can stand up too."

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed.

After successfully lobbying for a new law that addresses bullying in Kentucky, Morgan was recognized as one of the top ten young people in the nation who make a difference.

"My mom and my dad were my biggest go-to's because whenever I was bullied no one was really talking about bullying," Morgan said.

And she said, when she was bullied, having her parents in her corner really helped.

"My ultimate goal is that bullying wouldn't be a thing, it wouldn't exist, but we always take one day at a time, one kid at a time," Morgan said.

She will be recognized in February in New York.

The law Morgan got passed sets a clear definition of what bullying is and how Kentucky schools should handle it.

How Senate Bill 228 changes the standard in Kentucky

"When Morgan was bullied 5 years ago to show the change Kentucky, our school system didn't have a formal definition for bullying," Susan said. "So when she was bullied they referenced the harassment legal definition, which is 211 words, difficult for a third grader to understand, difficult for this mother to work through. Our new definition is 27 words, any unwanted behavior it starts that way. The goal is to provide a definition that opens that door for kids to ask for help, so if it's unwanted for them, someone needs to stop that behavior."

Facts about bullying

"160,000 kids don't go to school everyday because they're afraid," Susan said. "When we started Kentucky lead the nation in teen suicide attempts. One out of five bullies will spend time in jail by the time they reach the age of 25. One out of 10 high school drop outs do so because of bullying. I think the more we know education is so key the more they understand it."

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