Northeast Times

Anti-bullying efforts are strong at Warren G. Harding School

Why can’t we be friends? Stu­dent coun­cil pres­id­ent Raina Mills in­tro­duces Sen. Bob Ca­sey Jr. dur­ing the na­tion­al launch of an anti-bul­ly­ing cam­paign called Speak Up. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHO­TOS

The staff and stu­dents at War­ren G. Hard­ing Middle School have been trained to identi­fy and re­act to bul­ly­ing, and of­fend­ers face dis­cip­lin­ary ac­tion be­fore they can even seek to re­turn to the classroom.

Bul­ly­ing is not OK at the school, ac­cord­ing to prin­cip­al Mi­chael Cal­der­one.

“Bul­ly­ing is a very ser­i­ous is­sue and is not tol­er­ated at Hard­ing,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Bob Ca­sey Jr. and Car­toon Net­work are im­pressed with the anti-bul­ly­ing mes­sage preached at Hard­ing, loc­ated at Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue and Wakeling Street in Frank­ford.

Ca­sey vis­ited the school on Feb. 20 to an­nounce in­tro­duc­tion of the Safe Schools Im­prove­ment Act to com­bat bul­ly­ing. He was joined at the event by the pres­id­ent of the Car­toon Net­work and two of the stars of the show Level Up.

Car­toon Net­work, owned by Turn­er Broad­cast­ing Sys­tem Inc., launched the Stop Bul­ly­ing: Speak Up cam­paign in Oc­to­ber 2010 to send the mes­sage that bul­ly­ing is un­ac­cept­able and to mo­tiv­ate bystand­ers to pre­vent it.

In the 11 weeks since the vis­it by the law­maker and Car­toon Net­work rep­res­ent­at­ives, the stu­dents have em­braced the anti-bul­ly­ing mes­sage, their prin­cip­al said. They en­joy wear­ing their Stop Bul­ly­ing: Speak Up T-shirts.

“We’re al­low­ing the kids to wear them as a uni­form shirt,” Cal­der­one said. “It’s an­oth­er re­in­force­ment of the mes­sage. It’s a great visu­al re­mind­er.”

Hard­ing has had anti-bul­ly­ing meas­ures in place since the be­gin­ning of the school year. As the year draws to a close, the school is con­tinu­ing to press the mes­sage.

On May 10, Mu­ni­cip­al Court Judge Jac­quelyn Fra­zi­er-Lyde will vis­it the school to lead an as­sembly on cy­ber bul­ly­ing.

When the judge and all oth­ers walk to­ward the school en­trance, they’ll no­tice the anti-bul­ly­ing flag atop a flag­pole.

“It flies every morn­ing,” Cal­der­one said.

When he vis­ited Hard­ing, Ca­sey ex­plained that his le­gis­la­tion would re­quire schools and school dis­tricts that re­ceive fed­er­al money to fol­low a code of con­duct de­signed to stamp out bul­ly­ing and to keep stat­ist­ics on the num­ber of stu­dents who are bul­lied. Those schools must also take steps to pre­vent the ab­use.

  The bill has more than 40 co-spon­sors, with Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk be­ing the lead Re­pub­lic­an on the bill.

“Bul­ly­ing is not ac­cept­able,” Ca­sey said.

Car­toon Net­work, which is in al­most 100 mil­lion homes and provides pro­gram­ming geared to kids 6 to 14 years old, last year broad­cast a prime­time doc­u­ment­ary on bul­ly­ing that was in­tro­duced by Pres­id­ent Obama.

The show fea­tured kids who’ve be­ing bul­lied and kids who’ve been the bully. There have also been tele­vised pub­lic ser­vice an­nounce­ments and two CNN spe­cials hos­ted by An­der­son Cooper.

In ad­di­tion, the net­work has partnered with Face­book for a bul­ly­ing pre­ven­tion pledge and provided edu­ca­tion­al re­sources at www.stop­bul­ly­ing­speak­up.com

Oth­er part­ners in­clude the U.S. De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Amer­ica, the Anti-De­fam­a­tion League and Barnes & Noble books.

Also, the net­work plans to join the Amer­ic­an Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers in rais­ing anti-bul­ly­ing flags at more than 2,000 ele­ment­ary and middle schools na­tion­wide. Hard­ing was the first, with three flags draped over the bal­cony of the aud­it­or­i­um, in ad­di­tion to the one fly­ing on the flag­pole at the school en­trance.

Stu­art Snyder, the net­work’s pres­id­ent and chief op­er­at­ing of­ficer, said a study shows that someone is bul­lied every sev­en minutes on a school play­ground in Amer­ica.

“Eighty-five per­cent of the time,” he said, “nobody steps in to help.”

The good news, Snyder said, is that in more than half the cases when some­body does step in, the bul­ly­ing stops. He asked all of the Hard­ing chil­dren to stand and take the “Speak Up” pledge.

Ca­sey, a former state aud­it­or gen­er­al and treas­urer who was re-elec­ted last year to his second Sen­ate term, poin­ted to a sur­vey show­ing that 60,000 Amer­ic­an kids skip school every day be­cause they are afraid of be­ing bul­lied.

Ca­sey and Snyder were joined at Hard­ing by Aimee Car­rero and Con­nor Del Rio, the 20-something act­ors who play Angie and Dante on Level Up, a live-ac­tion series on Car­toon Net­work.

When Snyder and the two act­ors chanted, “Stop bul­ly­ing,” the stu­dents re­spon­ded, “Speak up.”

“Bul­ly­ing doesn’t have to be a part of grow­ing up,” said Del Rio, who traveled to the school with Car­rero from Hol­ly­wood. “We all have to speak up. You’ve gotta speak up when you see bul­ly­ing hap­pen­ing.”

Oth­ers in at­tend­ance in­cluded state Rep. John Taylor and Wil­li­am Hite, su­per­in­tend­ent of the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia.

Hard­ing sev­enth-grader Raina Mills, an hon­or roll stu­dent and stu­dent coun­cil pres­id­ent, in­tro­duced Ca­sey.

Raina asked her fel­low Hard­ing Hawks to help kids who are be­ing bul­lied, or to tell an adult they can trust.

“The most im­port­ant thing that all of us can do,” she said, “is to be a friend to someone be­ing bul­lied.”

Snyder said stand­ing up to bul­ly­ing is not about be­ing a snitch.

“It’s about help­ing your fel­low class­mates.” ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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