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Bullying Takes a Hit
A Middle School Fights Back
The last week in May (2013) my wife and I attended a program on 'Bullying' at the Booker Middle School in Sarasota, FL, conducted by a former resident of Brooklyn, NY, who is skilled in drama.
The program's offerings were written and performed by nine students (two 6th graders, the rest in 7th grade), based on real experiences of these and other students. This is a pilot program in west-central Florida that weds drama and current national attention being paid to the increased rates of suicide and dysfunction on the part of young people who are bullied.
The drama coach told the thirty or so people who attended that there are four kinds of bullying: physical intimidation, verbal assaults (name-calling etc.), emotional (teasing, gender and racial discrimination, and social (using media like Facebook and tactics like shunning and isolation).
The first third of the night was devoted to two original rap songs performed by a 7th grade African-American student. The second part consisted of five monologues, delivered by four students (one white, one of mixed race, and two African-Americans) plus one by a teacher. Each monologue presented the true-life experience of someone other than the performer, but came through as powerfully as if they had been their own personal tales. A third section fostered a Q&A session as members of the audience asked relevant questions and the performers responded, still in character, as the persons they'd portrayed earlier in the monologue portion.
The hour's program was a great introduction to the growing problem of bullying that resulted not only in a greater awareness of what students and teachers face every day, but the knowledge that bullying takes place everywhere—at the workplace, in marriages, at graduate schools, and in the public arena.
This program was presented also to grade school classes and will be performed as well for area high schools in the hope that it will become a district-wide emphasis and serve as a model for many other communities and schools.
If you've read this, go a step further now and 'study up' on the topic of bullying. Who knows? Maybe you can be the person who sparkplugs a similar program in your area that will help students and adults escape the damaging (and all-too-often life-threatening) effects of being bullied.