Presentation aims to stop bullying

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – A community awareness program and a local high school united for a cause last week.

Dearborn High School, partnering with local non-profit organization Helping Youth Progress & Excel Athletics, organized a presentation Nov. 2 in the high school’s auditorium was directed at helping to curb school bullying.

According to published reports, the state Senate took a step toward that goal the same day by passing anti-bullying legislation, requiring school districts to have policies in place to address bullying on school-owned devices.

Dearborn High School Assistant Principal Oussama Baydoun said the presentation is aimed at getting to the root of bullying and informing students what to do when they witness it.

“The best thing that we can do as a community and educators is to bring this (bullying) front and center,” he said. “We’re asking everybody for it to stop.”

He said school administrators hope to reach bystanders to bullying, which Baydoun called the “silent majority.”

“There’s about 77 to 85 percent of our student population that are considered bystanders, and that’s a huge resource that no one is using,” he said. “We know if we’re going to change the culture of the school and put an end to bullying behavior, we have to activate that. We’re asking that bystander to speak up.”

Students who participated in the program said they were glad to see it get started. Senior Marie Wolski said the presentation was necessary and welcome.

“I think that only the Dearborn School District would do something this amazing,” she said. “As a senior, I think they should have started this years ago.”

Junior Demonshae Glover agreed.

“This event is way overdue,” she said. “I think that it’s important now. (Students) are ostracized for various reasons.”

Baydoun said the school, since the beginning of the 2011-12 school year, has participated in five assemblies targeting bullying. Following the assemblies, which included videos about students who took their own lives due to constant harassment, many students came up to Baydoun and to volunteer to start a committee to help stop bullying. Baydoun said the school reached out to many organizations, including H.Y.P.E. Athletics, to participate in the program.

“What we did was reach out and said ’Help us get the message out’,” he said. “And H.Y.P.E. … was able to email about 3,000 people.”

Bilal Amen, director of operations for H.Y.P.E. Athletics, said the organization was more than happy to partner with the school. He said the organization’s role is to help get the word out and to make sure bullying becomes non-existent.

Family and Consumer Science and Social Studies teacher Dana Anderson-Weigan said raising awareness of the school’s anti-bullying stance was important and called for everyone to “just stop.”

Baydoun said getting community members to work together is essential, because bullying is not easily fixed.

“It’s a national issue, it’s a global issue,” he said. “And it’s not stopping.”

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)

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