New peer-to-peer prevention program aims to create a community of 'upstanders'

Posted at 9:15 PM, Dec 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-01 21:17:47-05

There's a new program at Amherst High School in an effort to tackle cyberbullying. It's called the AT&T and Siena Upstander Program. 

It's a peer-to-peer prevention program providing students with the tools needed to combat cyberbullying.

"It's horrible because it's always happening 24/7," Elias Dunkle, Amherst High School junior said. "It never stops."

Trained Siena College students, known as Upstander Ambassadors, are helping teach New York High School students the tools and resources needed to bring awareness  about cyberbullying.

The main goal of the program is to create an Upstander culture within Amherst High School. By being an 'Upstander,' it encourages students to not simply be a bystander when they witness cyberbullying but, speak up instead. 

The Upstander Ambassadors spent Friday morning working with 20 selected student leaders in a workshop on how to be Upstander Ambassador. At the end of the day, the Upstander Ambassadors and all of the Amherst High School Students participated in an assembly learning about the program and how to implement the newly learned Upstander behavior. 

The program comes after a 2016 survey conducted by Siena College Research Institute in 2016. Findings show 85% of teens spend an hour or more a day with online videos or games and 73% are online at least an hour a day socializing with their friends.

The survey shows more than 1 of 5 in Western New York have been a victim of cyberbullying.