Anti-Bullying Week Kicks Off at Collaborative, CHS

By Seth Daniel

Chelsea Collaborative youth leaders Stephany Villatoro and Ashanti DeCosta look at a picture of Amanda Todd, a teen from another state who ended her life in 2012 due to cyber bullying. The moment was part of a kick-off event at the Collaborative on Tuesday, Jan. 16, for Anti-Bullying Week. A large event at Chelsea High for students, parents and staff will take place Thursday, Jan. 18, at 5 p.m.

Chelsea Collaborative youth leaders Stephany Villatoro and Ashanti DeCosta look at a picture of Amanda Todd, a teen from another state who ended her life in 2012 due to cyber bullying. The moment was part of a kick-off event at the Collaborative on Tuesday, Jan. 16, for Anti-Bullying Week. A large event at Chelsea High for students, parents and staff will take place Thursday, Jan. 18, at 5 p.m.

The Chelsea Collaborative youth leaders and Chelsea High School are combining their efforts this week to bring unprecedented attention to Anti-Bullying Week.

On Tuesday afternoon, youth leaders kicked off the week with a program at the Chelsea Collaborative designed to educate  youth and adults about how dangerous bullying can be in the 21st Century – a danger that can often lead to death.

Stephany Villatoro and Ashanti DeCosta of the Collaborative Youth Team said they see bullying all the time at the high school, and can definitely understand how

someone might commit suicide.

When asked if they could picture someone at their school going so far as to end their life over  bullying, they replied, “Oh yea.”

That is why the youth displayed personal stories of bullying from kids who live in Chelsea and also one national story about Amanda Todd. The teen had posted something online by mistake, and was attacked  with cyber-bullying that didn’t stop.

Soon, it was more than she could take, and she ended her life.

“I think it is such a necessary topic,” said Villatoro. “It’s something that many of us might have actually experienced ourselves in some form, but we don’t want to talk about it. By being youth leaders at the Collaborative, it gives us an opportunity to spread concerns and solutions about this to other youth our age.”

Said DeCosta, “Something that is very common at Chelsea High is cyber bullying. It’s not much with verbal or physical bullying, but the cyber bullying often leads to that. It all starts with the cyber bullying though. Someone will post something about someone else and they’ll go back and forth on social media. Then it just gets out of control.”

Both said one of the goals they have is to be able to teach students caught up in this about how to address the core issues and conflicts they have face to face. They hope to be able to instill a maturity in the community that allows people to resolve conflicts with one another and not turn to bullying online.

It’s a world that parents often find extremely foreign, as most parents didn’t grow up with social media and have a hard time understanding how an electronic message can hurt so deeply.

But it does, say leaders.

“Cyber bullying has taken on a life of its own and doesn’t necessary exist now in the way that it did even five years ago,” said Sasha Parodi, a youth organizer at the Collaborative. “It’s one thing that’s rapidly developing and there are so many ways for it to surface. It’s really more  of a lack of understand or resources to address it for some parents. It’s very hard because every kid has a phone and it’s hard not to get everything that comes with that phone, such as social media.”

Today, Jan. 18, Chelsea High School will have a major event to help bring the topic even more into the light for students, teachers and parents.

Alfonso Ceciliano, a Chelsea High parent liaison, said they will stage the event at 5 p.m. in the Auditorium.

“We’re going to be addressing all kinds of different topics with Anti-Bullying,” he said.

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Chelsea Collaborative youth leaders Stephany Villatoro and Ashanti DeCosta look at a picture of Amanda Todd, a teen from another state who ended her life in 2012 due to cyber bullying. The moment was part of a kick-off event at the Collaborative on Tuesday, Jan. 16, for Anti-Bullying Week. A large event at Chelsea High for students, parents and staff will take place Thursday, Jan. 18, at 5 p.m.

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Heyde and Kaley Vasquez write their thoughts about a bullying story that was posted as part of the kick-off Tuesday night.

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Youth Leaders from the Chelsea Collaborative kicked off Anti-Bullying Week at the Collaborative on Tuesday night.

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