Anti-bullying seminar raises awareness in Whitestone

Anti-bullying seminar raises awareness in Whitestone
Councilman Paul Vallone and Vallo Transportation hosted a student seminar against bullying.
Courtesy of Council member Vallone
By Mark Hallum

Vallo Transportation, a school bus company, and Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) hosted an anti-bullying event at JHS 194 in Whitestone last week with speaker Tom Thelen as part of the company’s fifth annual awareness campaign known as the “No Bullying Zone.”

Thelen, a youth motivational speaker, author and founder of the Victimproof Bullying Prevention Program, said the younger the students are the more likely they are to be bullied until they reach high school. But teens in the last stage of their K-12 career are not out of the woods in terms of being the object of scrutiny, according to Thelen.

“A new study by the U.S. Department of Education shows that 30 percent of sixth-graders experience bullying on a regular basis,” Thelen said. “And by the time they reach 12th grade, that number is reduced to 15 percent, which is still way too high. If we’re ever going to reduce bullying, we have to give kids practical skills for how to handle it and how to get help.”

Vallone presented a proclamation to the transportation services company for the work they have done to not only raise awareness to bullying, but to provide resources at www.StopBullying.gov to inform and advise the public.

“Bullying in schools has been and continues to be a serious issue that has damaged, often irrevocably, the lives of so many children and their families. Awareness and education are critical tools in addressing the issue,” Vallone said.

Nearly 1,000 students attended the presentation, which coincided with the school’s own initiatives against bullying.

“As we commemorate five years of implementing this anti-bullying campaign, I’m proud to announce that to date we’ve delivered this important message to over 10,000 students and members of the community,” said Linda DeSabato, president of Vallo Transportation. “Our plan is to continue raising awareness of bullying prevention among students, and we will continue to partner with the education community, elected officials, law enforcement and other groups on outreach initiatives.”

Vallo provides school bus service to hundreds of students throughout Queens and Manhattan, but specializes in transportation to the Bronx High School of Science. Schools in Queens use Vallo for field trips and sporting events, and the company traces its roots back 50 years.

Councilman Vallone employs the services of Vallo for the annual fireworks show at Fort Totten.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall[email protected]glocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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