By Bob Duffy
M ore than 5,000 students and educators from across New England gathered recently to unite against bullying.
The Stand Up to Bullying event, which was
sponsored in part by the MTA, drew teams from
middle schools and high schools to the Tsongas
Center in Lowell on Nov. 29.
Stand Up, which was first held in 2011, has
quickly become one of the largest such efforts in the
United States, according to organizers. The program
was developed by a coalition of more than 50
community and educational organizations to counter
the effects of bullying and create a culture that helps
“Schools should be safe havens for students
— places where they can grow, learn and realize
their full potential,” said MTA Vice President Tim
Sullivan, who co-chaired the Stand Up 2012 program
and addressed the crowd. “This event is a sign of
positive activism and a broad willingness to fight
back against this problem.”
Statistics surrounding the issue are startling.
According to the National Education Association,
one in three American schoolchildren in grades
six through 10 is affected by bullying. All told,
83 percent of girls and 79 percent of boys report
experiencing some type of harassment.
Students who are targets of repeated bullying
experience extreme stress, which can develop into
a fear of going to school, using public bathrooms or
taking the bus. These fears can manifest themselves
as physical symptoms of illness. They can also lead
to a diminished ability to learn.
S tand Up 2012 employed a combination of town-hall-style discussions among students, group meetings, musical entertainment and
motivational speeches. Students broke into groups to
discuss their own ideas and opinions about bullying
and creating positive change.
Three schools received Stand Up awards for
innovative anti-bullying efforts: the Southeast
Alternative School in Middleborough and Sandwich,
the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in
Devens and the Hudson Memorial School in Hudson,
In addition to the conference, the organizers
produced a half-hour television show, “What Every
Parent Needs to Know About Bullying,” which aired
Dec. 5 on Channel 38.
The show featured a panel of the area’s top
experts on bullying prevention.
Lorri Curry, a health education specialist in
the Haverhill Public Schools, said it is important
for parents to understand the difference between
bullying and teasing.
“Almost every time a student is teased it’s being
called bullying because bullying has gotten so much
attention,” she said, “so we need to help parents try
to understand the difference between teasing and
typical put-downs, which are still rude and mean
behavior, and bullying.”
“Bullying isn’t something mean that just
happens once. It’s something that happens over
and over again,” said Dr. Elizabeth Englander,
director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction
Center at Bridgewater State University, one of the
organizations that founded the Stand Up campaign.
She explained that since fighting on the playground
has become less acceptable, more “socially
powerful” students have turned to “social snubs” to
make others “feel very, very bad.”
Efforts are currently under way to host similar
events in New Hampshire and Illinois.
to see “What Every Parent Needs to Know About
Bullying.” MTA Vice President Tim Sullivan’s
remarks at Stand Up 2012 can be viewed at
‘Schools should be safe havens
for students — places where
they can grow, learn and
realize their full potential.’
— Tim Sullivan
MTA Vice President
More than 5,000 students and
educators packed the Tsongas Center
in Lowell on Nov. 29 for Stand Up
2012, one of the largest anti-bullying
events in the country. The crowd heard
from motivational speakers, listened
to music and held a town-hall-style
discussion. Students also broke into
groups to voice their own opinions of
bullying and talk about how to create
positive change in their schools. MTA
Vice President Tim Sullivan, left,
served as the co-chair of the event
and addressed the audience.
Photos by Mike Otis and Bob Duffy