Teen author writes books to send positive messages to young children
Justine Danielle Del Monte is currently in the 11th grade in California. She really enjoys traveling and attended a semester abroad in South Africa. When she was eleven she began her writing with “Drew’s Dancing Drum,” and continued Drew’s adventures with her second book, “Drew Meets Boo,” written at age 12.
Her most recent story, “Drew and the Cyber Bully,” was written at age 13, and it continues to educate children on bullying; she aims to send positive messages about acceptance to young children. She likes writing for kids as she relates to many of the struggles they face at such a young age, and her passion for writing has enabled her to turn her books into her Girl Scout Gold Award. (Justine has also earned the Bronze and Silver Girl Scout Awards.)
What started as a simple literature assignment for school turned into a book series (with discussion points), interactive Apps available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin, and an animated short film. Justine and the illustrator, Brendon King Chappell, had the honor of being keynote speakers at The Solano BookFest in 2015. Justine has done international community service in Nicaragua, Bali, Singapore, and Peru. She has also been a guest speaker at numerous schools and for Girl Scout Troops and is deeply honored that her simple stories are encouraging others to be “nice” and treat others with respect.
Justine says, “I wrote the books because bullying is so prevalent and kids need this information at a young age, far before middle school. It’s also important to understand why kids bully and to see not only how they are hurting others but how they are hurting themselves.” The books provide “important lessons about self-esteem and how to handle challenging situations.”
A Dreamer Against Bullying
Dorian learned at a young age that it is important to care about others and to be involved in the community. When Dorian hung out with friends, they told many stories about how they were bullied. He tried to stand up for classmates at school when they were bullied, but he was discouraged when he was called a “tattletale” or told to sit down. This upset Dorian, who wanted to help. He went to his mother and asked for her advice.
With his mother’s support, Dorian wrote and had published a book called DAB, Dreamers Against Bullying. He decided he wanted some of the proceeds from his book to be donated to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. Dorian also became the leader and organizer of Bikers Against Bullying, a youth event that holds bike nights in his community. He takes pride in speaking at several schools and has created dance skits related to bullying prevention.
Dorian wants other kids to know that bullying is wrong, and that they can stand up for themselves and others who are experiencing bullying. Dorian says, “I just want to inspire others to do good things and let them know it is okay to speak up.”
It all started in 2017 when two brothers, Ethan, age 9, and Merritt, age 6, were out surfing and Merritt got pummeled by a big wave. He reached the shore and exclaimed, “That was crazy, but epic! Actually bro, that was CREPIC!” and an idea was born: the boys wanted to design cool surf and skater apparel, and give back to the community.
With their parents’ blessing, Ethan and Merritt began their small surfing apparel company called Crepic. “One of the main issues we focused on with the boys was the concept of social entrepreneurship and using their little company to do good in the world,” said their dad, Chad. “We asked them what a meaningful cause would be for them and both immediately suggested bullying.” Bullying was a natural choice for Crepic. While both boys have been teased for wearing glasses and know how hurtful bullying can be, they also appreciate the issue from a different perspective. “Our Dad is a pediatric plastic/reconstructive surgeon,” said Ethan, “and we’ve grown up with so many of his patients who have become our friends.”
Chad hosted a viewing party of the movie “Wonder” at the Children’s Hospital in Miami. After seeing “Wonder,” Ethan confided in his father how moved he was by how the boy in the movie was treated. It was this connection between PACER and “Wonder” that helped the boys to decide to choose PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to receive a portion of the proceeds from Crepic.
Ethan and Merritt say they “truly are committed to spreading positive vibes and the concept behind their company is that life is not about being ’the best‘, but rather about being ’one’s own best.” The message on their website is about spreading kindness and helping to prevent bullying!
At CREPIC, we’re not into negative labels. We like spreading positivity and good karma throughout our community, and we all know that nobody likes to be called names be it on a board, on the field, or in the classroom. That’s why we are using our company to help end a problem so many young people face today.
He Finds the Hero in Himself
Caleb first experienced bullying in the 7th grade. The bullying continued into 8th grade and then into his freshman year. He was told by his peers that he would never amount to anything, but during his freshman year, Caleb’s life changed.
“One day during English class, we watched a student-led bullying prevention presentation by upperclassmen,” Caleb said. “The presentation educated me about the different types of bullying, the effects of bullying, and how to stand up to bullying, and they showed videos of students sharing their experiences with bullying. Their motto was ‘Anyone Can Be a Hero’ and stand up for bullying. It was in that moment that I wondered if I could.”
One year later, it was Caleb giving that same bullying prevention presentation to freshmen. By the following year, he was in charge of the entire school program, including expanding the effort to the middle school where he was first bullied.
The program offers a survey about bullying at the beginning of the year to collect data. The presentation includes NCT (Name It. Claim It. Tame It) Scenarios, the students sign a Be a Hero pledge, and feedback is gathered from the freshman about what they learned, what was most effective, and what could be improved to make more of an impact.
Feedback from students has been positive, which includes: “It changed my life,” “I now feel I have the courage to stand up against bullying,” and “I now know that I don’t have to fight bullying alone.”
“Since the student-led bullying prevention presentation has been implemented, we have seen the rate of bullying dramatically go down and countless lives touched,” Caleb said. “I know that there are so many young adults struggling with mental health and that the rate of bullying is growing every day, and that there are many teens out there who feel completely and utterly alone, helpless, hopeless, and powerless. I want to empower others to do incredible things with their lives, and perhaps, even more importantly, truly impact the lives of others.”
It is Caleb’s goal to expand this student-led program to all public schools in Portland, Oregon, and to other schools nationwide!
Love Share Care
After watching her friend experience bullying, Azariah wanted to create a space for girls to interact online in a positive, friendly space free from bullying. And the idea for Love, Share, Care was born! This is a place for teen and tween girls to address cyberbullying through supportive and positive interaction. Girls can socialize, engage in online challenges to spread peace and prevent bullying, and even win prizes!
Azariah writes, “My idea to create a bully free social network came about after a close friend of mine experienced the torment of being bullied. My first thought was to create a group within my school for other girls who had gone through the same thing. I soon realized that the problem was much bigger than my school. I have always had a passion for helping others and bullying stands out the most to me, which made my desire to help not only my friend but girls everywhere. I want to inspire girls to be more positive not only on social media, but also through the interactions they have face to face. I want Love Share Care to be a social place that gives girls the freedom to share their ups and downs without the fear of being teased or bullied. I hope that my efforts show girls all over the world that we can make a difference by doing kind things for others, no matter how old you are.