Allies against bullying

Bullying. Society has been dealing with it since biblical times and it’s certainly not going to go away any time soon.

It’s a widespread problem, and it’s not restricted to doing physical harm to someone smaller than you. Bullying also includes teasing, name-calling and spreading unkind rumors about someone for any reason.

The growth of the Internet has taken the act of bullying to a dangerous new level. In schools, it hampers learning and the educational atmosphere as a whole.

Parents consistently rank it among their top three concerns for their children.

A New York City public school teacher and a former teacher are doing their part to help prevent it. The program developed by George Anthony and Lindy Crescitelli, Stand Up and Lead, has been giving children in our schools the knowledge they need to protect themselves and others from being adversely affected by bullying.

As this story points out, Stand Up and Lead immerses children, their parents and school staff in exercises that help them develop skills in conflict resolution, peer mediation and leadership.

At the kickoff for the program at IS 51 on Staten Island on Dec. 7, Anthony, the chapter leader at Susan Wagner HS, noted that it has been used successfully across the country and, in fact, in Israel, Japan and the Netherlands.

Their aim is to help youngsters who find themselves in conflict to “control the encounter, not let it control them,” Crescitelli said.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew called the program “a game-changer.” That’s why the union has chosen to sponsor Stand Up and Lead, as well as its own anti-bullying hotline that launched in November through its BRAVE campaign.

Once again, the UFT is doing work that the Department of Education should be doing by providing students with the tools, knowledge and support to stop children from becoming victims or victimizers.

The effectiveness of Stand Up and Lead has stood the test of time. Alumni of the program who have been out of school 10 years and more still show up to help facilitate the workshops for no reason other than the profound impact it had on their own lives. And the impact it promises to have on others.

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