CITY HALL — The city’s teachers union has launched a new after school telephone hotline to help kids deal with bullying.
The service, which launched on Wednesday, gives kids a place to turn for a listening ear and confidential advice about how to cope with bullies both in and out of school.
“You now have a place to go,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, which launched the service using a $50,000 grant.
"Every single child has a right to go to school and not feel intimidated or harassed," he said.
The hotline will be open every Monday through Friday, from 2:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and will instantly connect kids to professional counselors from the Mental Health Association of New York City, who are trained in crisis intervention.
In addition to making sure kids aren’t at risk of harming themselves, the counselors will help kids build a plan to help stop bullying — which officials said has fast become a top concern among parents, they said.
“We cannot tolerate this anymore,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who stood next to Mulgrew in a rare showing of solidarity between the men.
“The UFT has really stepped out in front,” he said.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that while bullying has always been a concern for the city, a spate of recent suicides convinced officials that more had to be done.
"When kids are bullied they become fearful and ashamed," she Quinn, who said that bullying also poses a threat to kids' educational success.
Officials also shared their personal experiences of being bullied at school.
State Senate Minority Leader John Sampson said that he was bullied by one student who stole his
lunch every single day for three years.
"It's extremely demoralizing. You question yourself. You question you ability and you distance yourself from getting an education," he said.
"I don't want any child to go through what I went through."
The new hotline is part of a larger campaign called BRAVE (Building Respect, Acceptance and Voice through Education), which will also include posters in schools and monthly workshops for parents and school staff, and be incorporated as part of the city’s ‘Respect for All’ curriculum,’ created in 2007.
Calls will be offered in English as well as Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese, via live translation. In January, the service will also be available by text message and online chat.
If you or your child is having problems with bullying, call the hotline at (212) 709-3222.