FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The Jets are used to tackling opponents. On Monday, the organization was more interested in tackling bullying.
The team partnered with Ross Ellis’ nationally renowned group Stomp Out Bullying to have a dialogue with 150 educators from the Tri-State Area, reported CBS2’s Otis Livingston, who emceed the symposium at the Jets’ training facility in Florham Park.
“I think the more we educate the kids, the more awareness we bring, the more people that are involved,” Ellis said. “Kids don’t want this. They’re telling us, ‘We don’t want this in our schools.'”
The event was moderated by Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, better known as “America’s Psychologist.” He thinks the pooling of resources and information is one of the keys to dealing with bullying.
“As we saw … this is an opportunity for us not just to teach about what’s happening, what’s new, what are best practices as far as anti-bullying efforts, but people being in the same space and being able to share their empowerment strategies,” Gardere told Livingston.
Gardere said people need to embrace not only the victims, but the bullying because there’s an underlying reason for their actions.
The seminar comes more than a week after 13-year-old Danny Fitzpatrick of Staten Island committed suicide, blaming bullying at his school.
During one of the question-and-answer segments Monday, the audience was treated to a special visitor — Jets wide receiver Eric Decker, who has become an ambassador for Stomp Out Bullying.
He shared a personal experience from high school.
“We had a school shooting, and it was because of a freshman bullied by another classmate — and just thinking in the future of my own children,” Decker said.
Jets president Neil Glat told CBS2: “Our coaches, our players, the people who work at the Jets are in the community, and they identified it (bullying) as a problem, as something that we wanted to get behind. When we talked to some of our players, they were supportive of it, and we really wanted to push it.
“I think today was a great success. It really was a tremendous opportunity for us to learn a lot, for us to identify ways that we can do more, and hopefully it will do some good in the community.”
The Jets are also using social media to help in their efforts, rewarding what they call Upstanders of the Week, kids who teachers think have done something to step in and stand up to bullies.