On Tuesday, a high-​​school stu­dent grasped a micro­phone and shared a painful memory of unre­lenting bul­lying with the audi­ence gath­ered in Matthews Arena: “I was walking down the hallway, and someone called me a ter­rible name. This time, I didn’t even hear it — I wasn’t paying atten­tion — but it seems every­body else in the hallway did. It’s some­thing that never stops hurting.”

Then, from deep in the crowd, a voice cried out “We love you!” and the nearly 4,000 middle– and high-​​school stu­dents who packed the arena erupted in cheers and applause. That sen­ti­ment of sup­port was common throughout the day­long 2011 Stand Up con­fer­ence hosted by North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, which drew stu­dents from across Mass­a­chu­setts to dis­cuss youth bullying.

The con­fer­ence was cre­ated to edu­cate, moti­vate and empower young people to actively pro­mote pos­i­tive social change in their schools and com­mu­ni­ties, and included remarks from state politi­cians and radio per­son­al­i­ties. Stu­dents from Bridge­water State Uni­ver­sity also mod­er­ated a town hall-​​style dialogue.

Stu­dents shared their thoughts and expe­ri­ences from micro­phones in the crowd and by answering poll ques­tions on cell phone, with updates posted live on screens.

I am so inspired to be here today to see all the great faces com­mitted to this cause and this move­ment,” said North­eastern Ath­letics Director Peter Roby, one of the conference’s co-​​chairs. “The work you’ve done in your schools and your com­mu­ni­ties has been to make everyone feel wel­come, and I hope that’s the spirit you carry back to your schools and your com­mu­ni­ties when you leave here today.”

The event included appear­ances by sev­eral local musi­cians, including Amer­ican Idol finalist Siobhan Magnus, a Bridge­water, Mass., native, and public offi­cials such as Attorney Gen­eral Martha Coakley, whose office has pushed for tougher bul­lying leg­is­la­tion in Massachusetts.

I know everyone tells you this, but you really are the ones who make a dif­fer­ence,” Coakley said. “Whether you choose to step in to help someone in need or choose to be a bystander and ignore the problem, you are making a dif­fer­ence, for better or worse.”

Eliz­a­beth Eng­lander, the director of the Mass­a­chu­setts Aggres­sion Reduc­tion Center who cochaired the event with Roby, told stu­dents that even small actions to stop bul­lying could have mon­u­mental out­comes. She told the story of the Pink Shirt Cam­paign, which started simply as a way two seniors hoped to stop bul­lying at their high school.

We want to help you, but you’re the ones who are going to make this happen, who are going to stop bul­lying. This is all about you,” Eng­lander said.