When you hear about anti-bullying organizations, what is the first thought that comes to your head? Many individuals focus on the simplicity of the problem; the bully and the victim. When looked into more closely we take the next step and consider the finer details, who, when, how, and how did it stop. Growing up I expected bullying to be what I saw on screens, or what was presented in front of me. I remember watching movies and seeing the cliche high school cliques and “popular” groups that would rule over other students in the school. I was always focused on the idea that if you’re being bullied you have to go get help, and you must find guidance. It made sense at the time, I mean that’s what my teachers, parents, and advisors had always taught me, so why would I believe anything else.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago, I started volunteering for an organization; the Student Unity Project. From the little research I had done, I knew it was an anti-bullying organization and didn’t believe differently until I learned the differences it held between other anti-bullying organizations. At first, I assumed that SUP, much like any other anti-bullying organization, was focused on helping the victim solve their issues and deal with their bully. Later on, I discovered how wrong I was, in the way that SUP was not the same as other anti-bullying organizations.
To get a better perspective and understanding of The Student Unity Project, I interviewed Janis Griffin founder of SUP. The inspiration behind starting SUP for Janis was her interest in social justice causes, she had run several marathons to raise funding for organizations but wanted to have a deeper connection with the cause. After some of her research, she had discovered an organization created by a child psychologist who dealt with bullying differently from what we normally saw, this individual had worked with school boards in the united states and other countries on this subject. With her new interest in this topic and passion for social justice, Janis and her husband trained under him for over a year. Through her new experience, she started SUP, at first the organization was a nonprofit, but after a year became a registered charitable organization.
The difference between SUP and most anti-bullying organizations is the goal they have. While most anti-bullying organizations promote seeking help and support, SUP encourages the victim and helps them empower the situation by themselves. The Student Unity Project’s main goal is to empower kids to deal with the bully directly. After a series of questions, I understood Janis’s approach to the cause, one of my questions was why she believes helping students overcome bullying is important. Her answer was simple,
“ I think it’s important because it becomes so widespread, and the programs are in place are not helping, the difference from then and is we define bullying differently, we don’t assume the victim is powerless and needs the support of a teacher, and parents”.Janice Griffin
SUP strives to build confidence in victims and help them realize that they are not defenceless, for whatever they face either that being targeted for disabilities, religions, minority, LQTBQ this organization allows individuals to overcome the prejudice they face. SUP allows aid in numerous ways, the biggest is through education, directed towards parents, students, guidance counsellors, etc. Info sessions are also held one on one for parents as well as role-playing to teach kids how to enact in certain situations.
Most recently SUP came out with their commercial video advertising the organization. This video was created in hopes to reach out to those who are looking for a way to overcome difficult circumstances
“Whether you are a parent or a victim of bullying it is a tool inviting you to find out more, it’s an invitation to find out more”Janice Griffin
For anyone who is facing bullying or is interested in pursuing more about the topic, SUP is a great way to get a better understanding of the topic.