CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's nearly impossible to stop bullying from happening. What people can do is start something else in its place.
That's the message a father-and-son team gave Wednesday morning at the annual conference of the National Association of Social Workers' West Virginia chapter at the Charleston Civic Center.
Gary McDaniel, a clinical social worker, and his 16-year-old son Aidan, a sophomore at Berkeley Springs High School, have been bullying prevention advocates for the last five or six years, the elder McDaniel said.
McDaniel first gained interest in putting a stop to bullying after he became the social worker for Morgan County Schools, where he saw the problem up close.
"It's just a horrible way to treat another person," McDaniel said. "Seeing someone being cruel to someone else piques my social justice nerve. Especially if it's someone who has more power."
The two have spoken previously at a past NASW West Virginia conference, a conference of the International Bullying Prevention Association, and at Harvard University's Symposium on Youth Meanness and Cruelty. They also will speak at Yahoo's Digital Citizenship conference.
McDaniel said he wants to encourage people to do something in their communities. Simply telling bullies to stop and punishing them doesn't work, he said.
"It's hard to stop something from happening," McDaniel said. "You have to start something else."
One of the things that McDaniel has helped to start is a Sardine Club at Warm Springs Intermediate School.
While many adults cringe at the thought of sardines, children often taste and like them, McDaniel said.
The fish are packed with protein, calcium and Omega 3. At $1 a can, sardines are a good nutritious food, especially for poor communities, he said.
The club that started with four fourth-grade students has grown to include students in grades 3 through 5, who meet weekly during lunchtime.