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Tales of a Former Bully

Cameron Thompson is working to stop bullies from making the same mistake he made.

Everyone was laughing—except Mike*. The second-grader was surrounded by a group of classmates outside their school in Beaumont, California. Tears streamed down his face. 

The kids were taunting Mike because he had brought a Barbie doll to school for show-and-tell. Seven-year-old Cameron Thompson was the leader.  

“Boys don’t play with Barbies,” Cameron recalls saying as his friends laughed. 

Cameron didn’t know it then, but that day would change his life. He’s spent the past five years making sure other kids don’t get treated the way he treated Mike.

“I was a bully, and I made a mistake,” says Cameron, now 12. Now he’s trying to stop bullying in schools across the United States.

Everyone was laughing—except Mike*. The second-grader was surrounded by a group of classmates. They stood outside their school in Beaumont, California. Tears streamed down his face. 

The kids were taunting Mike. He had brought a Barbie doll to school for show-and-tell. Seven-year-old Cameron Thompson was the leader.  

“Boys don’t play with Barbies,” Cameron recalls saying as his friends laughed. 

Cameron didn’t know it then, but that day would change his life. He’s spent the past five years making sure other kids don’t get treated the way he treated Mike.

“I was a bully, and I made a mistake,” says Cameron, now 12. Now he’s trying to stop bullying in schools across the United States.

Making a Change

Cameron immediately regretted making fun of Mike. He apologized to his classmate. 

He also wrote him a letter saying he was sorry. Though Mike forgave him, Cameron was still haunted by guilt. 

“I realized I messed up,” Cameron says.

He knew he needed to do more than just say he was sorry. So he decided to start an anti-bullying club at his school. 

Cameron immediately regretted making fun of Mike. He apologized to his classmate. 

He also wrote him a letter saying he was sorry. Mike forgave him. But Cameron was still haunted by guilt. 

“I realized I messed up,” Cameron says.

He knew he needed to do more than just say he was sorry. So he decided to start an anti-bullying club at his school.

Joining Together

The first meeting took place on a Friday during recess. Cameron was worried that no one would want to give up playtime to talk about bullying. But more than 70 kids showed up. 

“I was shocked,” Cameron recalls. “I couldn’t stop smiling.”

He had even more reason to smile the next school year, when the number of kids in his club grew. With the help of his principal, Cameron led group discussions each week. The kids talked about times they had been bullied. They also talked about things they could do to prevent bullying situations. 

The first meeting took place on a Friday during recess. Cameron was worried. He didn’t think anyone would want to give up playtime to talk about bullying. But more than 70 kids showed up. 

“I was shocked,” Cameron recalls. “I couldn’t stop smiling.”

He had even more reason to smile the next school year. The number of kids in his club grew. With the help of his principal, Cameron led group discussions each week. The kids talked about times they had been bullied. They also talked about things they could do to prevent bullying situations.

Standing Up

Alyson Aliano/Getty Images for Scholastic

Cameron’s club eventually grew to include more than 200 members. But he wanted to spread his message beyond his school. In 2016, he created a website called Cameron’s Anti-Bully Campaign. He uses the site to encourage other kids to start their own clubs. 

Cameron partnered with several organizations to create anti-bullying kits. They include supplies for making posters and information on how to prevent bullying. Cameron has sent kits to schools as far away as Australia and Puerto Rico.

Cameron’s club eventually grew to include more than 200 members. But he wanted to spread his message beyond his school. In 2016, he created a website called Cameron’s Anti-Bully Campaign. He uses the site to encourage other kids to start their own clubs. 

Cameron partnered with several organizations to create anti-bullying kits. They include supplies for making posters. They also include information on how to prevent bullying. Cameron has sent kits to schools as far away as Australia and Puerto Rico.

Never Too Late

Cameron graduated from elementary school last year. But the club he created is still going strong. He now leads a similar group at his middle school and also shares his story at other schools. Cameron hopes bullies can learn from his experience.

“I want to make sure other kids don’t make the same mistake that I did,” he says. “It’s never too late to change.”

*The student’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.

Cameron graduated from elementary school last year. But the club he created is still going strong. He now leads a similar group at his middle school. He also shares his story at other schools. Cameron hopes bullies can learn from his experience.

“I want to make sure other kids don’t make the same mistake that I did,” he says. “It’s never too late to change.”

*The student’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.

1. What is the purpose of the first two paragraphs of the article?

2. How did Cameron Thompson deal with his mistake and make a change?

3. What is the section “Joining Together” mainly about?

4. How does the sidebar “What Cameron Wants You to Know” support the article? Which suggestion do you think is the strongest? Explain your choice.

1. What is the purpose of the first two paragraphs of the article?

2. How did Cameron Thompson deal with his mistake and make a change?

3. What is the section “Joining Together” mainly about?

4. How does the sidebar “What Cameron Wants You to Know” support the article? Which suggestion do you think is the strongest? Explain your choice.

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