Roughly 25 percent of school-age children have experienced bullying, according to education experts.
The students at Mattituck Junior-Senior High School would like to see those numbers drop. They celebrated Unity Day yesterday in observance of National Anti-Bullying Month this month, spending the day participating in activities to raise awareness of bullying.
This year, Students Against Drunk Driving sponsored Unity Day, purchasing bracelets for the entire district and organizing activities which, according to SADD club advisor Andrea Nydegger, “support standing up against bullying and promoting kindness, acceptance and inclusion.”
At lunchtime students participated in the creation of a paper unity chain which they hung on the walls of the cafeteria.
“The unity chain has a bunch of names and it’s showing that people understand what Unity Day is, that it’s a day where you stand up against bullying and everybody stands as one,” explains seventh-grader Sidney Brewer.
Students were encouraged to wear orange clothing as a sign of solidarity and many of the children had their faces painted with orange stripes or designs. Nearly everyone was wearing a unity bracelet with the words “Kindness is Cool” written across it.
Since bullying occurs year-round, the SADD club engages students during the entire school term. SADD club president Joy Davis, an 11th-grader, explains:
“We go to elementary school and junior high classes and talk about being an upstander, not a bystander for bullying. We show a Power Point presentation that encourages kids to be more than just someone who walks away from bullying, but to stand up to it. We do bullying reenactments for the classes also.”
Eighth-grader Ainsley Brewer sums it up: “I think that it’s really important that kids of all different ages in all different grades understand that bullying is a big problem in schools and in communities around us and that if we’re all aware of it then we can do more to stop it.”