A strange but positive story is developing in New Jersey this month related to the issue of bullying. It is perhaps the only positive development to come out of the Sayreville High School football hazing case, one which drew national attention and shut down a high profile high school football program.
During the investigation of the case, Sayreville Superintendent Richard Labbe used the term “upstander” to describe the teen who had come forward to report the bullying incidents. Of course the word upstander is the opposite of bystander, and being an upstander is a commendable act in the face of bullying, especially for teens. The problem is that the word does not appear in any official dictionary. One New Jersey politician wants to change that.
Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr. has introduced a resolution in the State Assembly that urges Merriam Webster and Oxford to add the word upstander to their dictionaries. As of now, it appears that there is little opposition to the resolution. According to Diegnan:
“It is fitting and proper for this House to raise awareness of the word ‘upstander’ and to encourage not only citizens of the State of New Jersey, but of the entire United States of America to become ‘upstanders’ instead of bystanders”
Bullying, cyberbullying and harassment are too often ignored, particularly by teens, leaving the victims feeling helpless and distraught. We believe that greater awareness that there is an option – kids can and should stand up to bullies – can lead to a decrease in bullying over all.
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