Assemblywoman Mila Jasey spoke to the 7th grade team 7A this morning, December 8, as a part of the continuing effort by the district to educate students, teachers and staff on the issue of bullying. Ms. Jasey was invited by 7th grade social studies teacher Kathleen Hester.
“We’ve been working with the students since September on this.” said Hester. Part of the discussion included two movies, the first being from NJ Transit on track safety. “You might wonder what does NJT have to do with bullying? Kids dare kids to go on the tracks and call them chicken if they don’t. That’s bullying.” said Hester. “The second movie was Bullied by the Southern Poverty Law Center. After watching the movie, three students came to me and said that they witnessed bullying and asked what should they do.”
Ms. Jasey was invited because she was one of the Anti Bullying bill’s sponsors, but also because all three of her children went to South Orange Middle School.
Ms. Jasey started her address to the the students by giving a bit of background to how the legislature works, what towns are included in their district and the people that represent them. She then went on to talk about the bill, and why she felt it was important, and that it had been updated in 2007 to include cyber bullying. She then gave them a bit of advice.
“Anything you put on Facebook is discoverable. Something you write in 7th grade can be used against you years later.” Jasey told her audience. “This is a tough thing for you to imagine at your age. Think before you hit the send button.” Jasey then engaged the students in discussion by asking for examples of bullying and sharing an personal example of hers where a relative was bullied and how it wasn’t handled well.
When asked why the bill was needed, Jasey responded “Not everyone does the right thing. We can’t legislate behavior but we can legislate the expectations of that behavior.” Jasey used the examples of the civil rights movement and the women’s right to vote as two examples issues that should not have needed a law to get people to the right thing.
Jasey stressed the law is about building a culture of tolerance and respect and making kids feel safe. She closed with telling the students how lucky they are to be in South Orange and Maplewood because it is such a diverse community.