Anthony Vargas is like any other 16 year old. He goes to high school in uptown New York City. He is due to graduate in 2015 and he’s managing the life of being a teen in a widely diverse city. Like most teens, he struggles with the relationships with his peers, including the name-calling, bullying, and violence that he has had to endure at school. He’s particularly sensitive to the remarks that his friends made against his mother two years ago, in 2012.
In fact, when that happened, those comments against his mother later led to physical violence, and that bullying only got worse. In a recent article in the New York’s Daily News, Vargas wrote that he’s now fighting bullying and all forms of school violence by urging legislators to make a law requiring schools to have mentoring programs. The reason for this push on lawmakers stems from the successful Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. Their program has been able to curb the effect of many social problems, including teen bullying,
In fact, the mentoring program has had a large impact on the education of teens in general. In a landmark study done by Public Private Ventures throughout 1992 and 1993, results revealed that those who had mentors skipped half as many days of school, felt more competent about doing schoolwork, and skipped fewer classes. Also, students who had mentors in their program said that working hard in school was important to them, going to school and getting a good education was also important to them, and graduating from college was important. Lastly, those who are alumni of their program report that they are doing better in school because of their mentor, have reached a higher level of education than they thought was possible, and that the mentoring program kept them from dropping out of high school.
Although these results do not directly report on bullying, it is clear that BBBS and their programs are having a positive influence on ending teen bullying. One clear
instance of this is the case of 12-year-old Leslie who was being bullied through texting and social media. As a result of sharing it with her Big Sister mentor, her parents were notified and the posts on Facebook were taken down. The young sixth-grader was recently on NBC’s Dateline, a special on the problems of school bullying. The two girls who were harassing Leslie may have to face time in juvenile detention and community service.
As for Anthony Vargas, he continues to believe that mentoring programs will decrease the rate of violence in schools and help resolve issues faced by many inner city students. “Many kids need someone to talk to, “ he wrote at the end of his article, “they need a helping hand. Having a mentor would go a long way.”
It’s true that when children have appropriate models, clear boundaries for behaving, and someone who believes in them, a teen can achieve great things. It’s already the case for Anthony Vargas, at only 16 years old; he’s already changing the world.
Vargas, A. (April 28, 2014). Teen calls on lawmakers to help prevent school bullying. Daily News. Retrieved on April 28, 2014 from: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/teen-calls-lawmakers-prevent-school-bullying-article-1.1769222
Our Impact on Education. Big Brothers Big Sisters. Retrieved on April 28, 2014 from http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.7721455/k.6CBF/Our_impact_on_education.htm