Bullying can be a major problem in schools, but it doesn’t have to be. According to Abington Heights Middle School Assistant Principal Eduardo Antonetti, there are plenty of actions both victims and bystanders can do to stop it.
Antonetti’s biggest piece of advice to kid’s who are bullied is, “don’t be a passive target,” but be ready with a strategy to “stand up for yourself safely and effectively.”
For example, he said if someone is being bullied verbally, meaning a person is calling him or her names or saying mean things to them, the victim should not remain silent, but say something back, even if it’s something simple, such as “yeah, whatever,” or “that’s not true.”
It’s not only the responsibility of bullying victims to stand up for themselves. It’s also up to bystanders, people who see or hear the bullying when it happens.
“It takes courage to stand up to a bully,” Antonetti said, “but it’s important to do something if you’re a bystander, and say something. Bystanders have a very powerful influence.”
Often when a person is bullied or sees someone else being bullied, he or she doesn’t know what to do about it. This is part of the reason Abington Heights Middle School developed its school-wide comprehensive anti-bullying program, according to Antonetti. Through the program, students are educated on what bullying is, how to identify it, and what to do about it.
An anonymous reporting system is in place, in which students, teachers and community members can fill out a form online. Once the form is filled out, the information goes to Antonetti’s e-mail inbox, which he checks frequently, and an investigation is started.
“Because of the serious affects of bullying, reporting is something we welcome,” Antonetti said. “If we know about it, we can address it. If not, we can’t.”
He pointed out that not every case of bullying is the same, so there is not one solution that will work every time. Staying silent, not reporting it and allowing it to continue, however, is never the answer.
More information about bullying and how to stop and prevent it can be found online at ahsd.org or stopbullying.gov.