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Be BRAVE against bullying
UFT announces a new campaign
by Cara Metz | October 27, 2011 New York Teacher issue
Want to take a stand against bullying? Here are some resources to review.
StopBullying.gov — Information from various government agencies on how to prevent or stop bullying, with a section especially for educators.
“See a Bully, Stop a Bully: Make a Difference” — The AFT’s campaign to raise awareness and provide resources to educators, students and parents.
“Bully Free: It Starts with Me” — The NEA’s campaign against bullying, which provides resources to educators.
Respect For All — The DOE’s “Respect for All” initiative is New York City’s effort to combat bullying and harassment, with information available.
Be a STAR — An anti-bullying alliance working to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone
With many political supporters and plenty of press, the UFT launched a new campaign, called Be BRAVE Against Bullying, on Oct. 19. It aims at changing school culture so that bullying is recognized for what it is — and not tolerated.
BRAVE — which stands for Building Respect, Acceptance and Voice through Education — provides educators, students and parents with the tools and support they need to be proactive about identifying and stopping bullying wherever it occurs, in cyberspace or the real world.
It features the creation of a UFT-sponsored after-school helpline [see story, below]; monthly workshops on bullying for parents and educators; screenings of movies and documentaries to heighten awareness of bullying; and collaboration with many other organizations and unions to create a multifaceted response to the issue.
For educators who want to send the message to students that they are available to talk, there are BRAVE posters and bookmarks they can display and distribute. Ask your chapter leader for supplies and visit the UFT website at www.uft.org/brave for more information.
Being a visible ally in these ways is an important step to take in combating bullying, said UFT Director of School Safety David Kazansky. It means being explicit in support of students who are different — whether because of their ethnicity, religion, sexuality or disabilities, he said.
The campaign was created in response to some recent cases of bullying with tragic consequences, notably Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death a year ago in response to the online invasion of his privacy, and 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, a Buffalo-area high school freshman who committed suicide in September after being mercilessly taunted to do so because of his sexuality.
The tragedies made Kazansky think about how many more students may be suffering in silence at all grade levels throughout New York City public schools.
“What we’re trying to do is help teachers, paraprofessionals and other school staff who may want to get involved in this but don’t know how,” Kazansky said. “We hope to plant a seed and see it take off in individual schools.”
The program builds on existing anti-bullying programs, like the Respect for All campaign, an initiative spearheaded by the City Council and the Department of Education.
The consequences of bullying are lifelong and serious, Kazansky said. It negatively affects a school’s atmosphere, disrupts the learning environment and harms morale for students, teachers and other staff, he said.
Studies show that bullying hurts both the students who are bullied — resulting in higher dropout rates and lower grades — and those who do the bullying, who go on to have greater substance abuse issues and more criminal convictions.