The New York Jets, in their continuing anti-bullying campaign, played host at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center to their first-ever anti-bullying symposium in partnership with STOMP Out Bullying. Some 150 educators from the tristate area were in attendance in the team's auditorium for panel discussions on topics ranging from the latest trends in bullying to the best practices across schools.
Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, the leading psychologist and media personality who moderated two panels at the symposium, spoke about the importance of the campaign and of the mental health issues that affect the victims of bullying and the bulliers.
"If we don't do something about it, that's where we tend to see, sometimes, the suicides, that's where we see in rare occasions the school shootings," said "Dr. Jeff. "These aren't things we just let slide or say, OK, someone was bullied or is a bullier and it'll work itself out. We have a responsibility to address both sides of that equation, because the effects, whether in mental health, physical or medical, can be long-lasting."
Jets wide receiver Eric Decker, who has been the Jets' ambassador for the team's anti-bullying campaign, made a short appearance in between stops on his busy training camp schedule to address the symposium.
"When I was in high school, I was a junior at the time, we had a school shooting," Decker said. "It was because of a freshman being bullied by another classmate. Just thinking to the future, my own children and situations like that and social media being so prevalent nowadays, it can get a lot worse if it's not for you all, if it's not for us as parents to educate our kids and provide them with the resources that we have."
Team Welcomes 150 Educators from the Tri-State Area in Partnership with STOMP Out Bullying.
Decker, Dr. Gardere and others praised the Jets and Team President Neil Glat for their role in becoming closely involved in their anti-bullying efforts. Glat related to the group why the Jets are passionate about this cause and the steps that the organization continues to take, such as the distribution of free educator toolkits, which enables educators to create meaningful dialogue, educate students through proven Social Emotional Learning, adopt character building, and involve students and faculty in working together to change school climates.
"We've distributed almost 1,000 toolkits, which have the potential to reach over 350,000 students," Glat said. "Our school visits so far have directly reached almost 3,500 students. We have used all of our media channels and properties to show PSAs to let parents, kids and teachers know where they can go for help and resources."
Glat added that the Jets are "also launching an 'Upstander of the Week' program where we will highlight and recognize one student each week on social media and in-stadium for being an upstander rather than a bystander."
Among the notable figures participating in the symposium was former Jets running back/kick returner Bruce Harper, president and co-founder of his 18-year-old organization, Heroes and Cool Kids. Otis Livingston, sports anchor at WCBS 2, served as master of ceremonies.