SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – South Plainfield High School students recently embarked on a virtual, school-wide anti-bullying field trip with many of the sports, entertainment, music and social media personalities they look up to.
On Feb. 16, hybrid and remote students spent period 0 (from 11:40 a.m. to 12:25 p.m.) attending the Anti-Defamation League’ ‘No Place for Hate’ Virtual High School Tour.’ The virtual bullying prevention ‘tour,’ geared toward helping teenagers and young adults handle various situations, provided SPHS students in ninth through 12th grade students the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from some of today’s sports and social media icons.
“The purpose of this assembly is to show the flip side and let the prominent, influential figures in our students’ lives tell their stories about how they overcame adversity,” said Sam Fierra, director of guidance for South Plainfield Schools.
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The lineup for the South Plainfield program included TikToker Dixie D’Amelio and YouTubers Faze Jarvis and David Dobrik along with sports legends Magic Johnson, Tony Hawk, and Bethany Hamilton as well as members of the musical group Fifth Harmony, just to name a few.
“Having people that students can relate to share their stories is so important. We have to go right to the source, to the people our kids associate with today and who are most influential in their lives, to send home the message,” said Fierra.
According to Lisa Campoli, student assistance counselor at SPHS, today’s youth are growing up and living in a world of social media and, as a result, cyberbullying – the use of electronics, including social media platforms to harass someone – is ‘growing more and more.’
“Our hope, through this program, is that when our students watch this video featuring people they ‘know,’ respect, look up to and are watching on YouTube and/or social media, and it will help them personally talk about what is happening, stand up, and overcome it,” said Campoli.
Through the program, administrators also hope that students will come away with a better mindset and the confidence to ‘say something’ when it comes to any issues or problems they are experiencing.
“We are seeing hate and negativity becoming more prominent and it is overwhelming society and it is overwhelming our kids and our schools. Every time we turn on the news, that is all we see and it starts to trickle down,” said Fierra, adding that bullying, along with racism and mental health, are the most common issues affecting young people today and programs like this are designed to help them talk about their issues and overcome them.
“These issues all blend together in some way and our hope is that by talking about them differently and letting our students hear about them from people they idolize will make a difference,” he said.
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