Children’s Aid Youth Speak Out at Anti-Bullying Forum in Albany

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Written by: Keyla Espinal

On Saturday, February 18th, more than 30 students from Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom Middle School and High School, I.S. 98 and the Mirabal Sisters Campus took a bus up to Albany to take part in an anti-bullying youth forum hosted by Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson and Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, both from the Bronx. This forum took place during the annual Black and Puerto Rican Legislators Caucus weekend whose mission is to empower the communities it represents and shine a light on the issues that are hindering those communities. During the first part of the forum a panel of members spoke of the consequences of bullying and the resources that can be used to stop, prevent or report it. The panel included Assemblymembers, youth and a representative from the Attorney General’s office.

Then it was time for the voices of the Children’s Aid Society youth to be heard. They shared their thoughts and recommended solutions, to both physical and cyber-bullying, and what they are doing at their respective schools to stop this type of harassment. “Bullys are usually victims themselves and programs like those offered by the Children’s Aid Society can provide them a safe haven that can make the difference in how they redirect their aggression” said Chelsea, a middle school student from I.S. 98., a Children’s Aid Community School. Fannie Lou Hamer students spoke of their Peace March taking place in May to encourage peace and allow students to engage in dialogue about the violence going on in their communities. Kimberly, a Children’s Aid Youth Council representative, spoke of the survey that the council is conducting to get real numbers on how much bullying is affecting the students at their schools. All the youth made it very clear that while bullying in general is a large issue to handle, students need to try their best to get informed and do their part to prevent it.

A talent segment later on in the afternoon was symbolic of all the positive things students can and should, do with their energy and time. Our own Iconic Dancers from I.S. 98 had an amazing performance dancing to the rhythms of the newest beats. The day was an experience for both adults and students alike. The forum provided a basis for a larger and longer discussion on how all can join together to make our schools and neighborhoods much safer.