Hospital initiative combats bullying

February 21, 2011 3:07:56 PM PST
Bullying is increasingly becoming a problem for any school aged child. 18 Bronx public schools feature a program sponsored by the Montefiore Medical Center to counter personal attacks called "STAR", (strengthening tween and adolescent relationships)."

Vashti Serrano, Deja Harris and China Matos are students at P.S. 95 in the Bronx. They're in their early teens and have all experienced bullying.

"It makes me feel bad about myself, feel less than the other person, although I know that's no true, but yeah," said Vashti.

To counter those feelings, students come to the STAR program at the school for eight weekly sessions to learn about relationships with parents, teachers, and friends.

"Healthy relationships vs. unhealthy relationships, we start to develop a language where they can tell the difference between a great friend and a not so great friend," said Cheryl Hurst, a licensed clinical social worker from the Montefiore School Health Program.

The three girls have learned how to deal with the not so great friends, the bullies, and how to get help from adults.

"I can talk to my mom, a guidance counselor or the principal," said Deja.

"I feel bad when you say that about me, it not passive it's not aggressive it's assertive," said China

The next phase of STAR may be to include the latest problem with bullying, cyberbullying.

"They're Facebook thugs," said China, where bullies leave nasty comments on students' pages, and everyone sees it.

Hurst is planning to teach kids how to counter online attacks, just as she's taught them about personal interactions which they can pass on, even to their parents.

"I taught them about passive, aggressive and assertive communications, now my parents communicate with me better and with each other," said China.