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Obama encourages girl in fight against bullying

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 11-year-old Zianey Stokes writes president about bullies at school
  • Mother "taught me violence never solves the problem," she says
  • President wrote back that "bullying ... is never OK"
  • Philadelphia girl was inspired to start anti-bullying club at school

(CNN) -- When faced with bullies at school, one 11-year-old girl decided not to fight back with her fists. Instead, she sought help from a higher source: She wrote to President Barack Obama.

To her surprise, the president replied to the letter personally.

"My mom, she taught me violence never solves the problem," Zianey Stokes of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said Friday. "At my school, we're not supposed to hit no other child, and I didn't want to do that, because I'm not a violent person."

In her letter, Stokes described the bullying she saw and experienced at school.

"They would torment me. They would take my lunch and call me names and talk about my family members. ... They talked about my clothes and how I look," she said.

In his reply, Obama said he was glad she wrote to share her story. "Your letter demonstrates a desire to change the culture of your classroom as well as your community.

"Bullying, whether in person or online ... is never OK. All of us must recognize that our shared experience and our unique differences are what make this nation so special," the letter reads.

"You deserve a safe and enjoyable classroom and together we will strive to make it a reality."

When she discovered the letter in her mailbox, Stokes was "excited, and I was happy, and I wanted to cry."

The president's letter inspired her to start an anti-bullying club at her school, she said, and she wants to found an organization called No Kids Should Be Bullied.

"I would like to thank him for writing me back," she said, adding that things have gotten much better with the bullies at school.

"They're just really trying to be my friend," she said.

And as for her future, Stokes has that figured out, too.

"I'm becoming a writer ... or the president of the United States."