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Flanders girl honored for her response to bullying

12/01/2017 6:00 AM |

Like most younger sisters, Tarahji Langhorn wanted to follow in the footsteps of her older sibling.

When 12-year-old Envy Moore became a member of The Butterfly Effect Project, it wasn’t long before Tarahji, 6, joined her.

Alicia Langhorn said both her daughters are typically shy. But through The Butterfly Effect Project, a nonprofit founded by Tijuana Fulford that aims to empower young girls, both Envy and Tarahji have opened up, their mom said.

Tarahji was recently honored by Ms. Fulford for her response to a bullying situation, which she knew how to handle thanks to the lessons taught in The Butterfly Effect Project, her mom said.

Ms. Langhorn said she hopes her daughter’s story serves as a reminder of the continued conversations that must take place about bullying and how young kids should handle uncomfortable situations.

It began Nov. 9, when Ms. Langhorn said her daughter, a first-grader at Phillips Avenue Elementary School, went to the bathroom. Another student went in after her and asked Tarahji for her glasses. When she refused, the other student took the glasses from her face and threw them to the ground, Ms. Langhorn said. She tried to stomp on them, then picked them up and snapped them in half.

“My daughter had said she cried a little bit, but then kind of got herself together enough to go wait at the bathroom door to see which room this girl went into because she wasn’t in her class,” she said.

Tarahji took a moment to collect her thoughts, went back to her class, told her teacher what had happened and pointed out the girl’s classroom.

Soon after, Ms. Langhorn said, she got a phone call from school principal Debra Rodgers, relaying what had happened.

“My heart dropped when I heard it, because I can just feel how my daughter was feeling,” she said. “My little girl loves everybody.”

Ms. Fulford said The Butterfly Effect Project aims to instill in girls a sense of confidence when they speak.

“What I like to tell the girls is let’s not react, let’s be proactive,” she said. “I felt Tarahji was proactive, even though at the time her feelings were hurt. Her reaction was very proactive.”

Ms. Fulford said because Tarahji wasn’t in an angry state, she managed to accurately report to her teacher what happened so the situation could be addressed.

“This was her step-up moment,” Ms. Fulford said. “It’s important to highlight that because when we hear bully stories, we tend to highlight the bully.”

They don’t know why the girl chose to pick on Tarahji in that particular instance. Ms. Fulford said she hopes the girl can join the program. There haven’t been any problems between the two since and Tarahji has gotten over it, her mom said, adding that she was pleased with how the school responded.

Ms. Fulford said it’s important to address situations like these, even if they appear minor, because there’s always a chance the hurt feelings could linger for years.

At first, Ms. Langhorn even wondered why Tarahji didn’t respond by pushing or hitting the other girl. Her daughter calmly explained that, if she had, she would also have been in trouble. She’s not a bully, she told her mom.

At a Thanksgiving dinner for the girls in The Butterfly Effect Project, Ms. Fulford, or Miss Tia, as they call her, honored Tarahji with a special cake that said, “We are so proud of you.”

Tarahji, wearing a bright pink shirt, stood next to Ms. Fulford during a brief speech.

Ms. Langhorn had worried about how her daughter might be treated by other students when she began school because she had dealt with a speech problem. This year, she started to overcome that obstacle.

She was admittedly angry when she first heard about the incident. But since her daughter was honored among her fellow butterflies, that anger has dissipated.

She hopes Tarahji’s story can inspire others to speak up when they’re in a similar situation. And for parents, it’s always important to talk to their children about how their day went, she said.

Ms. Fulford said it’s important that the victim in a bullying situation not be viewed as a tattletale, bringing in more negative feelings.

“I think it’s real important for parents to be honest and open,” she said. “Your child doesn’t have to be labeled a bully to do a bullying act. Anything that makes another child feel inferior is bullying. And we have to address that act.”

Photo caption: Tarahji Langhorn, a first-grader at Phillips Avenue Elementary School, is joined by her mom, Alicia (from left, Tijuana Fulford, who recently honored Tarahji during an event for The Butterfly Effect Project, and Tarahji’s sister Envy. (Photo credit: Joe Werkmeister) 

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