From right, Miss NY 2011 Kaitlin Monte poses for a photo with Mohonasen kindergarten students Leah Scalise and her friend Haley Rider. Monte talked to Draper Middle School students about her anti-bully campaign earlier on Friday, May 18.
Photo by John Purcell.
ROTTERDAM Even Miss New York can’t escape bullying in her life, so she made it her mission to help bring an end to it across the state.
Kaitlin Monte, Miss New York 2011, visited Mohonasen’s Draper Middle School on Friday, May 18, to talk to students about the dangers and effects of bullying while providing students with tools to help overcome the problem. Monte, 23, said she has spoken to around 10,000 kids this year, but she has also been working on the new cyber bullying law to be presented to the state Legislature.
“A big part of what I do is schools have been inviting me to come and speak and share my story and advice with students,” Monte said. “A lot of who I am was shaped by the way I was treated growing up.”
She said a lot of her strength came from having to stand against bullying. Also, she said her siblings were bullied for their disabilities.
There is a “glamorization” of negativity these days, Monte said, and finding positive role models isn’t the easiest task for a kid.
“At its core is a need for our society to change its standards,” she said. “We have to start by teaching the young generation how to deal with growing up in this world. They are going to take over this world, so we have to help them to shape what they want it to be.”
Hearing stories of kids feeling “there is nothing left to live for” troubles her, and she wants to convey there is a bigger world outside of the environment kids might find themselves feeling trapped inside.
“We have to help kids realize there is life outside of their middle school,” she said.
To help bring forward an end to cyber bullying, she has been working with state Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Morris Park, to help shape legislation to directly address the problem. She helped launch the Cyberbully Census, which is an online survey allowing students to answer questions about bullying.