CJH students discuss how to be an upstander with Unity Tree project

A large paper tree with paper leaves with antibullying sentiments written on them hangs on a wall.
The Unity Tree hangs in the hallway outside the cafeteria at the C. J. Hooker Middle School.

C. J. Hooker Middle School students recently participated in anti-bullying activities led by Social Worker Lynette De Jesus.

Regularly-scheduled physical education classes met in the auditorium where De Jesus presented facts about bullying to the students. They learned that the three basics of bullying include intent to cause harm, an imbalance of power, and repetition.

Students also learned about the different roles associated with bullying. Bystanders are people who see bullying, but don’t try to stop it. Upstanders are people who see bullying, and try to help. Perpetrators are the bullies.

De Jesus then led students in a Unity Tree group project. Students broke into small groups and discussed:

  • What can you do change/impact your school’s culture about bullying?
  • How can you support a friend/peer who is being bullied?
A green paper leaf with antibullying sentiments written on it.
One of the leaves that hangs on the Unity Tree. It reads “What you can do: Tell and adult, be an upstander, confront the bully, comfort the victim.”

Students then wrote their answers on a paper leaf and shared their writing with their classmates. According to De Jesus, the Unity Tree is a powerful symbol reminding everyone that bullying can be prevented when we all come together – united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion.

The leaves were then added to a large Unity Tree, created by Art Teacher Amber Brown, as a constant reminder to all students that they should treat each other with acceptance, kindness and friendship. The Unity Tree can be found in the hallway near the cafeteria.

These activities support DASA, or the Dignity for All Students Act, which went into effect in New York state on July 1, 2012, in order to further support students within a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying. To learn more about DASA, visit the DASA page.