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Youth Address Concerns Over Bullying


By Mary Majerus-Collins
Senior Reporter
Ameni Mathlouthi
HARTFORD, Connecticut, U.S.A. – Bullying
is a serious problem for young people that must be addressed, according to
members of Congressional Youth Cabinets in Connecticut and Missouri.
Connecticut high school
and college students who make up Congressman John Larson’s youth cabinet and
Missouri teens who comprise Congressman William Lacy Clay’s cabinet discussed
bullying and how to prevent it in a videoconference Saturday.
“If children don’t feel
safe at their own school, how are they supposed to succeed?” said cabinet
member Matthew Wilson, a junior at Wethersfield High School in Wethersfield,
Conn. “One of the reasons why people bully people is because they don’t
understand the other person.”
Among the various
programs discussed was the Youth Establishing Strength, a campaign against
Also the cabinets
viewed a short video about Challenge Day, a seven-hour program designed to
demonstrate to both students and teachers how much people have in common with
one another and how easy it can be to make friends.
In Challenge Day the
participants shared their experiences and problems with each other. By the end,
students said, they knew and cared about every person there, while before they
had only cared about their friends.
Patrick Nickoletti, an
associate professor of human development and family studies at St. Joseph
College in West Hartford, Conn., addressed the cabinets.
Nickoletti said  state policy punishes schools that report
bullying and that a state certificate should be given to schools that include
anti-bullying programs in their curriculum.
The United States is a
“country based on equalities,” Nickoletti said,
but “tolerates inequalities.”

Matthew  Wilson, a member
of the Connecticut


Congressional Youth
Cabinet, and Andrea

Kandel, executive director
of the National Conference
for Community and Justice.


He told the cabinet
that young children who do not follow simple commands are usually more
impulsive and therefore are proven to be more likely to become bullies or

Andrea Kandel,
executive director of the National Conference for Community and Justice in
Windsor, Conn., told the youth cabinets that she thinks that family members will
want to be involved in anti-bullying programs because the only way they can
help now is to complain to the school administration.
Many adults who are familiar
with bullying still have no experience with the type of online abuse faced by
teens today through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Some of
the youth said teachers don’t always respond when they bullying.
“Somehow the teachers
and the faculty members are seeing the bullying but for whatever reasons they
are not reporting it because they think it is not one of their responsibilities
to do it,” Kandel said. “Even if they do, the school doesn’t do anything with
it because they don’t want to upset the wrong people but they are still
upsetting other people.”
Now all Connecticut
teachers are mandatory reporters, obligated to report any bullying or abusive
behavior they see.
Some schools punish
students who bully by giving them a detention or suspending them from school
for a day or two.
But Nicholas Grondin, a
Congressional Youth Cabinet member from Newington, Conn., said it doesn’t work.
students doesn’t help,” said Grondin. “It’s is like a little break instead of doing something
about the issue.”