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    AT&T, the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Siena College teamed up with City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison, New York Senator Sue Serino and Poughkeepsie High School on Friday, November 3 to host the AT&T and Siena Upstander Program. Upstander is a new cyberbullying peer-to-peer prevention program utilizing trained Siena students to help educate students, teachers and school administrators on the growing cyberbullying epidemic and to provide workshops, tools and resources to combat it.

    The AT&T and Siena Upstander Program grows out of the Upstate Cyberbullying Census survey conducted in late 2016 by the Siena College Research Institute, AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation that measured the prevalence of cyberbullying among students, the awareness of this crisis among parents, and parents’ understanding of their children’s digital behaviors in New York. The staggering data from the study revealed one in four students in upstate New York and one in two in the New York City metropolitan area have been a victim of cyberbullying. Those statistics, combined with feedback from schools requesting cyberbullying prevention programming, led AT&T, the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Siena to collaborate on this public education campaign.

    The objective of the program is to create an Upstander culture within Poughkeepsie High School, and other schools where the program is presented. Upstander is a popular phrase used in the anti-bullying space, and also used by AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which encourages students to not simply be a bystander when they witness cyberbullying but, rather, to speak up, notify an adult and/or interrupt the negative behavior.  Students were asked to take the Upstander pledge and promote it throughout the community.

  The innovative program pairs Siena college students who have been trained as cyberbullying ambassador facilitators with high school students for peer-to-peer conversations, role playing exercises and workshops. The program at Poughkeepsie High School consisted of Siena students working with 20 selected student leaders for the first part of the school day in a workshop on how to be Upstander Ambassadors.  At the end of the day, the Siena facilitators and the newly trained high school Upstander Ambassadors conducted a school-wide assembly program to share best practices, build awareness of the danger of cyberbullying and promote the Upstander behavior and culture.

   “The impact of cyberbullying on our youth has become pervasive and alarming. We simply can’t allow this crisis to destroy more lives and families,” said Marissa Shorenstein, president, AT&T-Northeast Region. “In efforts to curb this negative behavior, AT&T has collaborated with leading organizations within the cyberbullying space to develop programs, including the AT&T and Siena Upstander Program, to give parents, educators and students the tools to combat this epidemic and help facilitate a dialogue that will to lead positive change in our communities.”

   “The City of Poughkeepsie is glad to be a partner working with AT&T the Tyler Clementi Foundation to be able to have dialogue and discussion with our Poughkeepsie city high school students along with Siena College students to understand the importance of preventing cyber bullying,” said Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison. “It is our belief that the program will be successful in bringing people together to combat this very sensitive issue.”

    AT&T is also empowering teens to rise above online negativity and abuse through its social-first campaign, Later Haters. Influencers that teens love and trust will drive the movement on their social platforms – Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. AT&T hopes to encourage young people to use their mobile devices as a force for good.

Hudson Valley News  is published weekly on Wednesdays.

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© Hudson Valley News, 2009-2017


Hudson Valley News  is published weekly on Wednesdays.