NY Jets Champion Anti-Bullying Cause
By James Dombrowski
I went to cover a worthwhile high school assembly on Tuesday, February 13th at Metropolitan High School in Forest Hills Queens (New York). At the assembly, the NY Jets recognized the fantastic work this high school and the NYC Department of Education are doing to eradicate bullying in public schools. Several years ago the Jets adopted this cause, becoming the only NFL team to become part of “Stomp Out Bullying”, an organization begun by Ross Ellis to combat all types of bullying which also includes cyber bullying.
Who would think that on Wednesday, February 14th – Valentine’s Day, a 19 year old high school dropout would return to his former school and slaughter 17 students. As the profile of this crazed murderer becomes more known, the early indications are that he was a troubled child over a long period of time. There has been claims to bullying, and his behavior was anything but normal along with animal abuse in his background. I bring up this tragedy because as in other incidents bullying has been claimed and the message sent out by all involved in the anti-bullying movement is that zero tolerance is needed.
I applaud the Jets for championing this complicated cause to stomp out bullying. 16 “Up-Standers”, a term used to recognize individuals who stand up to bullying and help their fellow classmates, have made Metropolitan High School a model in the movement to rid bullying in school. The numbers are staggering. Claims as high as 1 in 4 students get bullied. Bullying also causes 5.4 million students to stay home during a school year, although it is stated that 43% of bullying occurs online.
The tragedy in Florida in a setting once considered as safe as church is horrific and there can never be enough done to keep schools safe. There is no one answer or solution just a resolve to do all that can be done.
Former Jets running back Tony Richardson, shown in photo autographing a football for Up-Stander Mike Strellabowski, noted as he addressed the assembly that it’s important to be a friend to someone who’s been bullied. Richardson told the assembly that he too was bullied.
The former NFL Pro-Bowler is an avid animal lover who adopted a three legged dog from Egypt. “My dog’s name is Rambo and we went for a 3 mile run this morning in Long Island City before I came to your school. I’m from Queens and my dad was in the Military. I was your size and I was bullied,” proclaimed Tony. “A bully wants an audience so they can feel better. We need to speak up if we’re bullied. Social Media sometimes shows kids being bullied and we should not post theses types of videos”, said Richardson. Richardson was quick to point out that the Jets are proud of their community outreach programs to stomp out bullying and their work with physical fitness. A very attentive audience at Metropolitan High School applauded Richardson.
Tony’s work on humanitarian causes goes beyond working with kids and his love of animals as he recently visited Puerto Rico. “The island is still a mess. I saw horses and dogs running loose. The scenes on television do not show how bad things truly are still ,” explained Richardson.
The NY Jets who play at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ and practice in Florham Park, NJ also support many schools in New Jersey. Their outreach to all communities is felt throughout NY and NJ.