Bladensburg anti-bullying workshop focuses on leadership

Anna Hornberger, 12, of Beltsville said classmates sometimes pick on her for being one of the few white students in the mostly-minority school she attends, but she has learned to tune out the bullies.

Anna said she didn’t realize how big a problem bullying is until she participated in a Saturday workshop organized by Clifford Thomas, her martial arts instructor at Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems in Bladensburg.

“It was just like an eye-opener,” Anna said Saturday at the Bladensburg Community Center, where the workshop was held and where she attends Tae Kwon Do classes every week.

After hearing stories about children who committed suicide as a result of being bullied, Anna said she learned that even “a single word can kill someone.”

Thomas of Suitland, has been teaching the self-defense classes in the Washington, D.C., area since 1980, said the idea behind Saturday’s workshop was to show children they shouldn’t be intimidated by a bully.

“There’s so many kids crying out for help,” Thomas said. “Kids are cruel. They pick on you ... I teach them how to deal with that problem and not be violent and continue to be a leader.”

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