Most bullying happens away from adults. This Wisconsin school teaches kids to step in.

Rory Linnane:

On a winter day last school year, Ashley Jenkins noticed a defeated look on a student’s face. She pulled him aside. With three words, she might have saved his life: “Are you OK?”

“You don’t have to tell me, but know I’m here,” Jenkins, now a senior at Adams-Friendship High School, remembers telling him.

Jenkins is part of the Safe School Ambassadors program, which trains students to intervene when they see bullying. They speak up in defense of victims and check in with students if they are worried about their mental health. They also record information about incidents, without names, in a central database so staff members are aware of trends.

In some cases, the student ambassadors ask adults for help.

Jenkins quickly realized she would need help with the student she pulled aside. He told her he felt like no one at school cared about him.

“There were students being incredibly cruel,” she said. “They would always say things about him and his family.”

Jenkins kept asking questions.

“He looked at me and he was like, ‘I’m just getting really tired of everything,’” Jenkins said. “He started tearing up and I knew he was thinking about hurting himself.”