OSWEGO, NY – “Stop, Block and Tell!”
Children are used to the safety slogan for fires, “Stop, Drop and Roll”. However, Miss New York State Kaitlin Monte recently visited the Oswego Middle School in her effort to address the serious topic of bullying and taught a new concept of defense.
The special visitor presented two programs at OMS as she first gathered with the seventh and eighth graders before spending an hour with the fifth and sixth grade students from all five of Oswego’s elementary schools.
Drawing from personal experiences Monte provided an interesting journey for the Oswego students.
She said, “My brother was autistic and he was picked on and my sister suffered from dyslexia and was bullied by a teacher” which left both of them with emotional scars.
When people are bullied she noted, “You can’t see inside and can’t see how much people are hurting. A bully might be jealous, been bullied themselves or simply want attention.”
As the executive director of operations and head of communications for “Project Empower,” an educational non-profit she has helped develop and launch as Miss New York, her aim is to eliminate bullying and peer aggression by increasing the scope of students and equipping them for life beyond the classroom.
Monte “armed” the students with bullying defenses.
She said a victim should do three things. Monte noted, “First if you see someone bullying put out your hand and say ‘Stop!’ Secondly, cross you arms and yell ‘Block’ and get away and then third, tell a trusted adult.”
It was noted that “boys are more likely to say that they are being bullied while girls tend to harm themselves.”
Monte also explained, “I was a victim of bullying. I didn’t fit in with everyone else. Things that make you different make you a better person.”
However, she encouraged students not to be ‘bystanders,” but “upstanders” as everyone should stand together against a bully.
She noted life is like a book and that students “should take the pen of your life and write a better story, but don’t write a line you won’t be proud of.”
Monte is a 22-year-old of Pittsford and graduated from high school at 16 and from the University of Tampa at the age of 19 with a degree in performing arts with a focus in public relations and consumer psychology.
She was second runner-up in the 2012 Miss America contest where she also received the Lifestyle and Fitness Preliminary Award and was selected as a Qualify of Life Finalist for her anti-bullying advocacy work.
She has traveled to schools across New York State to address bullying.
She launched a statewide petition to bring cyperbullying laws to New York and Partners with State Senator Jeffrey Klein to crate and pass that type of legislation.
She also assisted in launching the first every statewide cyberbullying census which allowed students to contribute to the design and authoring of the new law.
She has worked closely with the New York State School Boards Association to assist in the implementation of the Dignity for All Students Act.
Oswego fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders were well aware of what bullying was and Monte hopes that her visit brought some positive facets in the fight against bullying.