Twelve schools will be honored at a national conference on bullying today for efforts made in reducing bullying both in and outside the classroom, according to a press release.
The conference will be held at the Doubletree Resort at SeaWorld in Florida from Feb. 15 to 17, and it is hosted by the School Safety Advocacy Council, along with Students Against Violence Everywhere [SAVE] and the Florida Association of School Resource Officers [FASRO], according to the press release.
The 85-plus schools nominated by various organizations throughout the country were evaluated based on their ability and efforts in reaching students and the long-term effectiveness of their anti-bullying efforts, according to the press release.
University of Massachusetts junior Margaret Phan played a role in the effort to end bullying during her senior year of high school at Boston Latin School, which was not nominated for the award.
During the second half of her senior year of high school, Phan started ‘Girls Group,’ in an effort to help girls dealing with bullying after she noticed an increase in girls fighting, being bullied and dealing with boy drama.
“It was a mentor group for girls to help them realize there’s more to high school than just boys and jewelry and makeup and all that stuff,” said Phan.
Executive Director for the School Safety Advocacy Council Curt Lavarello said in the press release that he hopes awarding these twelve schools will both acknowledge their accomplishments and efforts as well as set positive examples for other school districts “seeking strategies to address both school and community bullying.”
According to Lavarello, bullying both inside and outside of school needs to be addressed, because the venues for it have increased, according to the press release.
“Bullying is no longer a Monday through Friday, 8 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.] issue,” said Lavarello in the release. “With all the social networking sites, there is an absolute need for schools to partner with communities on strategies.”
According to Phan, bullying is an ever-present issue in the American school system and cannot be ignored.
“Bullying is always going to be there in some shape or form but with the right information and the right programs it doesn’t have to be as big a problem as it is now,” said Phan.
The effort Phan made, she said, was the only anti-bullying program at her high school, a school that she said did not have a large bullying problem, compared to what she has heard about other schools.
‘Girls Group’ operated by holding meetings and information sessions and assigning younger girls to older girls as their mentors, said Phan, who mentored two girls, meeting with them every week to “make sure that everything was okay and that they weren’t having any problems.”
Phan said the club was beneficial to the younger girls, as the club gave them older students to look up to and to help them deal with personal problems or drama with friends.
“I believe that the most effective factor for these girls was having someone who was willing to take the time and work it through with them, rather than someone who just said the typical ‘calm down, it’s not that serious,’” said Phan.
Phan added that she thinks bullying has grown a lot since her high school years, and she said it is great that many schools are “taking initiative” to try to stop it. Phan thinks that an increase in anti-bullying programs is necessary.
When visiting her school after graduation, Phan learned that the club was still active.
“I thought it helped a lot because the girls I was mentoring needed someone to guide them towards rational and grown up decisions, no matter how angry or how worked up they were,” said Phan.
The award ceremony in Florida will be accompanied by presenters who are nationally recognized in “the area of bullying,” and over 20 exhibitors, according to the press release.
Steffi Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org