U.S. Senator says one in four students are victims
By Lauren Parker- Gill, News Editor, The Times
CALN – U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D) paid a visit to ninth and tenth grade students at the Coatesville Area Intermediate High School campus Tuesday morning to speak about bullying across the nation and the Safe Schools Improvement Act.
As Casey addressed the students, he told them that one in four people between the ages of 12 and 18 have been subjected to bullying in America – 60,000 students across the nation don’t want to go to school because they’ve been bullied.
To give an example, Casey told them to think of Lincoln Financial Field, where The Philadelphia Eagles play – it seats 69,000 fans for a football game. Let’s set aside 9,000 of them and pretend that there are only 60,000 seats. That’s the number of students in the United States of America, who everyday on average don’t go to school because of bullying.
“If you are involved in bullying, you’ve got to stop,” said Casey. “If you know someone who is a victim, try to give them comfort, try to give them a lifeline so they don’t take their life as we’ve seen in so many circumstances.”
Casey then spoke of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which would require school districts that receive federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion.
The SSIA legislation would also require states to report data on bullying and harassment to the department of education. The department of education would then be required to provide Congress with reports on the data collected every two years.
In closing, Casey thanked students who are already doing their part to stop bullying and encouraged others to do their part in preventing bullying.
“One conversation or one effort you undertake might prevent someone from taking their own life,” said Casey. “It may not be that dramatic but it might give them comfort for a day or two, knowing that someone cares about them.”
High school geometry teacher and student council adviser Victoria Cooper than spoke to students and asked the students if they’ve ever been made fun of for their appearance, clothes, beliefs or for something that happened at home. A few students in the auditorium raised their hands.
“Bullying in today’s society is at an all time high, with one out of every four or 25% of high school aged students across the country reporting that they were bullied last school year.” Cooper said.
Cooper went on to say that while it may not seem like a large number, an additional 64% of students claimed they were bullied but did not report it. All combined, 89% of students across America were bullied in the last school year.
“We need to be the change. Bullying occurs way more than it should but you always have the power to make the difference,” Cooper stated. “Be part of the positives, not the negatives. Speak up and spread kindness. Evil only succeeds when good people do nothing.”
The final speaker of the morning was student Casey Frederick, a junior at CASH, who spoke about the SPIRIT program (Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together) and how it is currently helping students assist other students.
SPIRIT was formed in October 2014 with selected students from all grades when they participated in an activity with the United States Department of Justice. Since that time, the group has grown and continued their work. This past May, they hosted a leadership summit with nine schools in Chester County to discuss new ways to approach situations and contain them, and specifically the effect the media has on their schools.
“SPIRIT is thrilled to continue its program this year and we welcome new faces and ideas to join of efforts.” Frederick said.
Frederick then concluded by thanking students, faculty and administration for their encouragement and support of their efforts.
Intermediate high school principal Brian Chenger thanked the senator, Cooper and Frederick for their powerful words and concluded the assembly by urging students to show their Coatesville pride and leaving them with the following question:
“How can you make a difference in your life and someone else’s life?”