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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

SIFE Students Tackle Bullying

SIFE Tackles Bullying

The brochure pictures for City College’s “Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) -- Don’t Be A Bully” conference are haunting, the faces and names of youths ages 10-18 who committed suicide. A column shows dates of birth and death followed by the manner of suicide. They could be yearbook photos, but it’s not a yearbook. They are students whose lives were cut tragically short by bullying.

According to the National Education Association, 60% of American teens see bullying in school every day (http://www.nea.org/home/19535.htm). Bullying can make students afraid to attend class, use the bathroom, or ride a bus. It can take place in the playground, while walking home, or online. In the most serious cases, it can result in death.

Under the guidance of Business Professor, Leroy Brady, SIFE students are addressing the bullying problem in schools. SIFE, a not-for-profit branch of City’s Business department, oversees a student-run food/beverage stand called “a la Cart” and the “Business Resource Center” a veritable Kinko’s on campus. SIFE is also active in community projects. In 2010, SIFE students, with input from Brady, faculty, and community members from their advisory board, decided to tackle bullying in schools.


Picture by Eddie S
They developed a six-step program in which SIFE students facilitate workshops in ethics and bullying prevention. “We teach the workshops to the highest grade at the elementary school, and then we work with those individuals to empower them so they can teach the first graders,” Brady related. “At the elementary school, the fifth graders are the top dog. The first graders look up to them, so we want to get them (fifth graders) and then we want to get the first graders so we can have some sustainability of the anti-bullying behavior.”

Elizabeth Cruz is a 22-year-old business student who plans to transfer to UC Berkeley. She coordinates “Don’t Be A Bully” at the King Chavez Academy, a K-8th school in Barrio Logan. She has reached over 200 students at this school. “The kids really connect with you and they really value what you have to say,” She conveyed. “It’s very exciting. You just know that you’re making a difference.”  

Antoine Bennett is a 34-year-old SIFE student who heads the “Don’t Be A Bully” after-school program at Hamilton Elementary in City Heights. What motivates him? “To give back to my community through SIFE is great. I didn’t have to wait until I made a million dollars and (be) all successful and rich. I’m giving back to my community now,” Bennett said. 

SIFE is expanding the program by working with a third school – Walter Porter Elementary in Lincoln Park. On December 3, 2011, they held their first annual “SIFE – Don’t Be A Bully” conference. The event featured keynote addresses by San Diego Unified School Board Member, Kevin Beiser, and San Diego Council Members Marti Emerald (District 7) and Tony Young (District 4).

Leroy Brady spoke about SIFE’s resolve to take on the bullying problem. “When you read about a ten-year-old and an eleven-year-old and a thirteen-year-old that commits suicide because of a bully, I mean, that’s just mindboggling to me. It’s so sad that I want to commit to doing this as long as there’s a need.” he said.

  



          


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