DA talks bullying with students

Phil­adelphia’s dis­trict at­tor­ney went back to school this week to teach a les­son about bul­ly­ing.

Seth Wil­li­ams talked to a well-be­haved group of Baldi Middle School sixth-graders early Monday af­ter­noon about bul­ly­ing and its ef­fects on chil­dren’s lives. He didn’t lec­ture the pu­pils. In­stead, he led the dis­cus­sion, let­ting the kids do a lot of the talk­ing.

Pu­pil Chan­ning Jack­son had writ­ten a let­ter to the DA about bul­ly­ing that he asked her to read Monday to kids and teach­ers gathered in Baldi’s lib­rary.

Bul­ly­ing is not healthy, she said. “It can hurt people’s feel­ings and make them feel bad about them­selves.”

Part of Chan­ning’s let­ter now is used in anti-bul­ly­ing ma­ter­i­al the DA’s of­fice hands out.

Us­ing a ques­tion-and-an­swer format, the DA got the kids talk­ing about the forms bul­ly­ing takes.

“Hit­ting!” one pu­pil said.

“Push­ing someone’s books out of their hands,” said an­oth­er.

“Telling people not to be friends with someone.”


And that’s not to men­tion the “cy­ber bul­ly­ing” of spread­ing stor­ies about oth­ers on­line, the DA said.

“Why do people bully?” Wil­li­ams asked the kids. They want to feel power, he said.

“They want to feel big­ger by mak­ing oth­er people feel smal­ler,” one pu­pil said. “Bul­lies don’t feel good about them­selves,” said an­oth­er.

Wil­li­ams en­cour­aged kids to speak up if they are bul­lied or wit­ness oth­ers be­ing vic­tim­ized.

“Re­port it,” he said. Pu­pils should tell a teach­er, tell an adult, or tell a par­ent, he said.

But kids have the real power to stop bul­ly­ing, he said. And the well-liked kids who have the re­spect and ad­mir­a­tion of their class­mates have the most power, he ad­ded. They can use that power for good, he said. They can tell people to stop.

Wil­li­ams also asked the kids, all of whom wrote es­says about bul­ly­ing, to take an anti-bul­ly­ing pledge. He also swore them in as hon­or­ary as­sist­ant dis­trict at­tor­neys.

The DA, who likes to en­cour­age kids to stay in school and get their high school dip­lo­mas, didn’t miss an op­por­tun­ity to do that Monday.

There’s one thing al­most every one of the thou­sands of people his of­fice pro­sec­utes yearly have in com­mon, he told the kids.

“They didn’t fin­ish high school … and a lot of them wind up break­ing the law.” ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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