Assistant principal Frank Kowalski has begun the new Anti-Bullying Committee at Swampscott High School in an effort to prevent bullying and harassment within the community.
“Once you get bullied, you start to get angry. You break the law, turn to drugs, or end up fighting back. People need to know when to stop,” said Mr. Kowalski.
At an introductory meeting to explain the club’s rules and goals, Mr. Kowalski addressed the link between bullying and nation wide violence, referencing incidents such as the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school and Columbine high school. Acts of violence and terror can often be the lasting effect of negligence and harassment during childhood where those affected often didn’t receive the proper help to steer them back in the right direction.
“I hope that people will realize that stepping in and not being a bystander is not always a bad thing because you can make a difference in someone’s life,” said Tori Thistle, Swampscott High senior and member of the Board of Directors of the committee.
Not only does the club address bullying itself, but also the disregard of those witnessing the hurtful acts and choose to do nothing to stop them. One goal for the club is to create an all-inclusive bullying contract, which would encompass every aspect of bullying, including those who act as bystanders. The hope for the future of the club is to address the seriousness of being a bully and a witness, and to make both less common in the school.
“A lot of people think that all kids are bullies,” said Ms. Gosselin, teacher at Swampscott High School and faculty member of the committee. “I think the committee will have a positive influence on the school because there is such a diverse group on the committee.”
Having teachers as members of the committee will bring a new perspective to the members as well as the student body. “Having teachers and adults will send a powerful message because we’re willing to share our stories and support the students,” said Ms. Gosselin.
Students as well as teachers are excited to see where the committee will head from here. Currently, the club is in the process of building its curriculum and making its message known, in the hopes of becoming an inspiration and helping many students.
“I joined the committee to be a good leader in the school and set a good example for the younger kids,” said Victoria Himaras, member of the Board of Directors of the committee and senior at Swampscott High. “I hope the committee will send a message about how bullying isn’t a good thing and to help set the standards for what is acceptable and what isn’t.”
Surveys, videos, and discussions are just a few of the many activities planned for the future of the club to engage members and spread the message about the detrimental effects of bullying. The committee hopes to spread its message through actions rather than words by teaching its members not to be bystanders and terminate any acts of bullying.
“We’re trying to start to make the school a safer place so that kids feel more comfortable,” said Tori. “If you see something, you should step in to help.”
The club plans to meet one morning a week to have consultations and run events that are based on eliminating bullying from SHS. The hope is a short-term improvement as well as a lasting annihilation of the damaging effects bullies inflict on students of all ages.
“I’ve always had an interest in this. It’s so bad that kids don’t want to come to school,” said Mr. Kowolski. “We’re hoping to eliminate that three percent that act as bullies.”