Alhambra Unified School District's new anti-bullying campaign kicked off at a Monday rally at Alhambra High School. Former Los Angeles Dodger Steve Yeager, NFL stars Greg Townsend and Willie Gault, former Laker Rick Fox and current Laker Jordan Hill joined local officials to speak about the importance of preventing bullying.
The new, district-wide program aims to eliminate bullying by providing more resources and counseling focused on anti-bullying, the Pasadena Star-News reports.
Assemblyman Mike Eng told students at the rally that bullying affected his self-esteem and academics in school. "I was bullied so badly and repeatedly that I had bad grades," Eng said, according to the Star-News. "I was even afraid to raise my hand in class because I thought the bullies would kick my chair, and then later find me outside and kick something else."
Eng's experience is not a random case. China Press (侨报) reports that studies show that Asian students experience more bullying compared with students from other ethnicities. A report shows that 54 percent of Asian Americans have been victims of bullying on campus, while 31 percent of white students, 39 percent of African American students, and 34 percent of Latino students have experience bullying.
Eng has also worked to fight bullying at a state level, authoring an anti-bullying assembly bill passed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year that expands the definition of bullying and allows school districts to use school safety funds for prevention programs.
Alhambra Police Chief Mark Yokoyama added at the rally that preventing bullying improves not only the academic success of Alhambra students, but also their safety, reducing crime and the chance of a school shooting. "If we don't do this we are putting a lot at risk," Yokoyama said. "We believe that bullying prevention is crime prevention."
Summer Burlingham, an AHS senior who attended the rally, felt that the program was helpful in prevening bullying. "It's nice knowing that people are actually trying to stop it," she said.
Also in attendance were Los Angeles County Juvenile Court Judge Michael Nash, Mayor Barbara Messina and AUSD Board President Pat Rodriguez Mackintosh, who all expressed support for the new anti-bullying program.
The anti-bullying campaign is part of AUSD's Gateway to Success Program, which provides counseling and mental health services to Alhambra students. Gateway to Success is also holding a month-long, district-wide fundraiser for the program's future, as the federal Safe Schools Healthy Students grant has funded it until the end of the school year.
*Updated: Summer Burlingham's name was initially spelled incorrectly. We also incorrectly stated that Rick Fox and Jordan Hill were both former Lakers. We regret the errors.