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Esperanza Prep Students Taught about Cyber-Bullying

By Jose B. Rivera

East Harlem - May 18, 2011. Students from Esperanza Preparatory Academy were led into discussions about Cyber-Bullying and Financial Literacy by guest speakers from Capital One Bank and Per Scholas, a non-profit organization. Per Scholas is dedicated to empowering people in low-income communities to use technology to improve their lives. They help to supply low-cost or free computers and training to help young people and adults make better use of this technology. Capital One has partnered with Per Scholas to provide free laptops to local students, including 50 laptops to Esperanza Preparatory Academy.

imageThe two teams of guest speakers numbered at about 18 met early in the morning to go over the day’s event. The day was divided into two sessions. The first session covered the topic of cyber-bullying. Cyber-Bullying is a old problem (bullying) with a new twist, that being the ability of people to harass, humiliate, embarrass, intimidate, or threaten someone else through the use of the computer or cell phones. The bullying can be done in numerous ways, through e-mail, on forums, or text messaging via the cell phone, Facebook, or Twitter. Cyber-bullying became a major problem in schools and with school age children when they started getting their own cell phones. Parents want their children to be able to quickly communicate with them in cases of emergency. September, 11, 2001 being utmost in their minds. Parents also like the convenience of being able to instantly communicate with their children no matter where they or their children are at any given time.

Social networking has allowed tweens and teens to be in constant contact with their friends. Texting has become the rage with this age group, allowing them to quietly and quickly communicate abbreviated messages to their friends. Unfortunately many have chosen to use their phones and computers to bully others. Hence the need to cover this topic in schools.

imageThe two groups of employees from Capital One Bank and Per Scholas broke up into smaller two and three people teams. Each team went in the classroom, prepared with a Power Point Presentation on cyber-bullying. Each team asked the class if they knew what cyber-bullying was. Not surprisingly, all students were able to articulate what constituted cyber-bullying.  When asked if they ever experienced cyber-bully, some students raised their hands in the affirmative. The Capital One Bank/Per Scholas teams then went through their presentations highlighting the many forms that cyber-bullying can take (computer forums, Facebook, twitter, texting, the use of photos). This included speaking about those who have committed suicide due to being bullied in cyber space. And it showed the students that cyber-bully does have consequences beyond hurt feelings.

The presentations went on to include other consequences of being cyber-bullied such as anxiety, depressions, illness, not doing well in school, being drawn to drugs and possibly becoming a criminal. Actions for students to take if they thought they were cyber-bullied, were, not to reply to the bully (if text), saving the proof of the bullying messages, blocking the bully and reporting the bullying to a trusted a adult, parent or teacher.

The second half of the afternoon was spent on the topic of Financial Literacy. The guest speakers from Capital One Bank and Per Scholas broke up into the same two to three person teams and went to each classroom to begin their presentations. The presentations began with a discussion of the impact of education on one’s life. Particularly as they pertain to Power, Status, Knowledge, Money and Respect. A discussion ensued about Male-Female salaries based on the amount of education a person goes through, from High School on to those who obtain their doctorates. From being a high school drop out ($19K for men, $10K for women) on to obtaining a Doctorate ($90K for men 64K for women), were highlighted to show how important it is to be educated and how that education has a profound impact on what you earn.

The presenters encouraged the students to continue their education after high school and to begin to save money, They also showed the students what their home/family budgets will look like as soon as they are on their own. Students were surprised at the number of bills and the amounts they will have to pay as adults. Bills for such things as rent, food, utilities, cable, internet, medical, dental, car payments, car insurance, gasoline and cell phones. Credit cards were also discussed as well as the expense of having a pet. Over all the students received a good dose of reality as it pertains to bills they are likely to have as adults. A few students volunteered that they will be rich and not have to worry about any expense. Who does not remember thinking that same thing at that age? Time will tell.

The two teams from Capital One Bank and Per Scholas did an excellent job with their presentations and how they related to the students. It is good to see commercial and non-profit organizations take an interest in our school children. Capital One Bank and Per Scholas deserve a hearty “Well Done”. The students of Esperanza Preparatory Academy were excellently behaved, listen well and participated throughout the two presentations. Principal Alex Estrella has done a wonderful job with these students and is an asset to the East Harlem community.

Further Information:
Capital One Bank: Capital One Bank
Per Scholas: www.perscholas.org/
Esperanza Preporatory Academy: http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/04/M372/default.htm

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