BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Young people are doing their part to raise awareness about the bullying issue here in Kern County by using a hearse to drive that message to the community.
Oksana Swen is getting a little help from her friends.
"I came up with this organization to help me get through what I've been through. I've been bullied when I was in 8th grade,” she said.
Swen is the founder of Student Unite Against Bullying to let victims know they're not alone.
"It doesn't just kill you from the outside; it kills you on the inside. It destroys your ego. It destroy everything that you value, it destroys everything," she said.
Parents involved with the group say more than three hundred young people have died since 2010 as a result of being bullied either in school or online.
"I'm hoping it would raise awareness and stop bullying," said Jacob Lopez, who use to be a victim of bullying.
The organization is using a hearse to send a strong message.
“It's like a tribute to all the victims," he said.
Names of victims and their age are displayed all over the vehicle. It's a way group leaders can remind the community the impact of bullying.
"I use to get bullied a lot for my weight and it just hurt a lot," he said.
Volunteers helping prepare the hearse for demonstration say the event is also a way for other victims to heal together and remember all those lives lost.
"It's sad and I feel for them because here I have a daughter that's now 16 and she's been bullied ever since the 6th grade, and she is a survivor due to bullying," said parent, Jami Frye.
Adults participating in the group say one way to combat bullying is for other parents to be more involved with their children and their school.
"Kids seeing the car, hopefully it will break some of the cycle to start breaking it and making kids actually realize what can happen," she said.
Leaders with the organization are working on developing bullying support groups that will be offered in schools around Kern County.
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