In every high school in the country, teenagers are trying to figure out how to get along, how to coexist, and how to feel good about themselves. Often, students face harsh verbal attacks and threats at school. In the past, they were afforded some measure of safety once they went home. That safety is no longer guaranteed.
Increasingly, students are using social networking sites to harass each other. Last week, the Washington Post featured an article about a slanderous website that was recently shut down. It is a chilling reminder that high school students may have fewer safe spaces than they used to.
One thing we love about TMA and about the Programs Department is that we get to work to create safe spaces for our kids. Every day after school, we open our library up for almost three hours and offer tutoring, computer access, and healthy snacks. Of course, simply offering a safe space does not solve the problem. We must empower our students to combat bullying. We must be a source of positive change.
In the past school year, 25 TMA students served as Anti-Defamation League Peer Trainers, working with other students to combat prejudice and prevent bullying. In 2005-2006, Yale University completed a study of this program. The results indicate that peers can have a significant impact in preventing bullying.
Have some thoughts of your own? Let us know your experiences with bullying, slanderous websites, or what we can do to be part of the solution.