Bullying is all over the news.
What are you gonna do, cry about it?
It’s a real issue — nowadays, cyberspace is as rough for kids as the much-feared “playground.” Here in Westport, at least, 2 groups are doing something about it.
And the groups are filled with young people. After all, who better to target young people who bully than those who don’t?
A recent Staples library presentation described current programs — what teenagers are doing here to combat bullying, and promote kindness, respect and empathy.
Westport Youth Commission iMentors Jordan Olsen, Leigh Rubin, Mike Argosh, Isaac Stein, Matt Fitter, Doug Russ and James Manning focused on the legal and emotional implications of cyber-bullying. They’re part of a group that has presented internet safety training — covering areas like social networking, IMing, texting and sexting — to over 1,500 youngsters (mostly middle schoolers) already.
Kool to be Kind (K2BK) — a new program recently initiated by Westport mothers/professionals Cindy Eigen, Lynne Goldstein, Sarah Green and Melissa Shein — promotes kindness and compassion at an early age by training high school students to act as mentors and role models to elementary schoolers.
Both groups urged the Staples community to adopt a “zero indifference” approach — taking action to stop bullying, and recognizing early warning signs when it occurs.
Nearly 2 dozen Staples students have gone through extensive K2BK training. Though the program is still in development, Jill Rappaport, Michaela MacDonald, Emily Platt, Greg Lewis and Avery Vogt described how the experience has affected them.
The students at the library presentation were — according to 1 adult who was there — “compassionate, empathetic, motivated and mature beyond their years. They are affecting change in elementary schools, and inspiring all the adults with whom they work.”
If bullying feeds on itself, kindness may also be contagious. Younger kids look up to Staples students, in many roles, for many reasons.
Taking the lead against bullying might be the most important of all.