June 3, 2014 at 12:24 PM ET
It’s not often you hear about an admitted bully trying to make things right, so a second-grader’s efforts at making amends are getting national attention and melting hearts.
Seven-year-old Cameron Thompson, a student at Tournament Hills Elementary in Beaumont, California, got in trouble recently for making fun of another boy who brought a Barbie doll to school for show-and- tell.
“I didn’t really mean to tease him so much that I made him cry,” Cameron told TODAY.
After the incident, Cameron had to write a letter to apologize to his classmate, while his mother expressed her regret to the boy’s parents. That family was touched and impressed by the apologies, they said.
But Cameron felt he needed to do more, his mom recalled.
“He came to me a couple of weeks later and he said, ‘I still feel really bad about what I did to him.’ He said, ‘How do I get that feeling to go away?’” Jessica Southard said.
The solution? Starting an anti-bully club at school.
“Since I was sad, I thought I could make it up to him and he could feel better and I could feel better, too,” Cameron said.
When he launched the group this spring with the help of the boy he teased, 76 kids showed up on the first day, blowing past the school’s expectations.
The principal says bullying is down in the school district thanks to what she calls positive peer pressure.
“We are so proud of Cameron and the work he has done to correct a wrong,” said Callie Beitler. “When students talk to students, they’re at their level.”
Cameron’s family also commissioned a video, which shows a re-enactment of the bullying incident (with Cameron’s brother playing the part of the bullied boy) and features Cameron explaining his actions in a voice-over.
“I didn’t really understand a boy bringing a doll to school so I thought it was funny. I told some friends and I convinced them to come make fun of him with me. We all circled him and teased him,” Cameron says in the video. “I struggle to make good choices sometimes.”
“We've been getting comments from all over the world how it’s impacted people,” said Philip Southard, Cameron's father.
As for Cameron, he’s now friends with the boy he bullied, playing with him at recess and eating with him at lunch. He also has a message to other kids.
“If somebody was bullying another person or teasing, I would say stop and that’s not funny and you should accept a person for who they are.” he said. "It's not too late to change."