Teen spearheads movement against bullies

NEED TO KNOW
  • Despite challenges, Jaylen Arnold has become poster child against bullying
  • Jaylen has Tourette's Syndrome, Aspergers Syndrome and severe OCD
  • He formed a nonprofit after being teased at school
Teen spearheads movement against bullies

Most kids who get bullied feel helpless, but Jaylen Arnold is not one of them.

Jaylen, who has Tourette's Syndrome, Aspergers Syndrome and severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, was teased by classmates because of his disabilities. Robin Arnold tells HLN when Jaylen used to come home from school, he would have to decompress for two to three hours every day and be alone. 

Robin said her then-8-year-old son was being bullied at school and transferred him to a private school. However, each time they drove past the old school, Jaylen would have an intense reaction.

"He would get nervous and say 'Please don't take me there' over and over," Robin said.

A few days later, Jaylen approached his mother with an idea.

"I know I don't have to go back there, but I know I'm not the only kid getting bullied, and some of those kids don't even have disabilities. I want to do something for them," Robin said, recounting their conversation.

READ MORE: Down syndrome: Turning disability into positivity

A few days later, Jaylen went back to his old school. He spoke in front of students for the first time, accompanied by the school psychologist, and told them about what he had, why he acted the way he did and why bullying was damaging. Many of the students apologized afterwards.

"After that first talk, Jaylen told me 'Mom, kids will change,'" Robin said. "'Their parents aren't telling them, so we'll tell them.'"

Jaylen and his mother started Jaylen's Challenge, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of how to prevent bullying. Now at age 13, Jaylen has made a difference by speaking at schools and promoting the message that bullying is a bad thing with his motto "Bullying No Way!"

The non-profit has also sponsored 5Ks to raise money for the past three years as well as being featured on both local and national news channels.

Jaylen appeared January 10 at Walt Disney World alongside former "X-Factor" star Carlos Guevara and musicians Nat and Alex Wolff. He hopes to appear someday on the Ellen DeGeneres show. He's come a long way since the days of asking his mother not to drive past his old school.

"Jaylen is much more confident today," Robin said. "It's hard to bully the poster child for bullying! But Jaylen is an open book, and he wants people to be educated, one person at a time."

While Jaylen still deals with people that react strangely to his disability, Robin said he is also approached by people who say "I know you! You're the poster child against bullying!"

"It's working," Robin said, with a smile in her voice.

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