Confronting bullying in schools

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Debbie Maier Jacknin, executive director of the Holocaust Project: Born to Remember and who has dedicated her life to helping school students understand the lifelong ramifications of following the crowd rather than one’s heart, was recently at Sto-Rox School District to talk about bullying.

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BE PROUD OF YOURSELF—Taiece Brooks, student at Sto Rox High, addresses Middle School students on bullying.

Jacknin met with seniors from Sto-Rox High School who wanted to tackle the issue of bullying in their school. They formed a new group, calling themselves the Anti-Bullying Association. Senior Jayvon Thomas was elected president; Marlene Banks, Community and Parent Liaison of Sto-Rox School District; and LaTrenda Leonard, Community Youth Organizer of Focus on Renewal, serves as student advisors.

Their goal is to raise awareness and create a safe haven for the victims.

The group also seeks to refine policy within the district that currently exists on bullying.

The ABA, now up to 11 high school students, had a day of mentoring with 300 students from Sto-Rox Middle School. The day started with a skit written and performed by the high school students.

Then, they discussed bullying, how it makes students feel and what can be done to counter the trend. They also shared their personal experiences. Senior Daeysean Rippy, who has been recruited to play football for Pitt next year, told the middle school students about how he made a difference in someone’s life by making friends with someone who was being made fun of.

In the afternoon, the middle school students were broken down into small groups and the high school students facilitated discussions including strategies and opportunities to break the cycle of bullying and potential violence in the schools and community.

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