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Lonely Halls and a New Beginning

Posted: 5/28/2020

After Jordyn struggled through 7th grade due to bullying, she felt relieved and excited to start 8th grade at a new school. She had missed countless days during the previous year and needed time and space to process the deep hurt she felt. She had fun at summer camp and spent time with her family, but the memories of the bullying were still raw and writing about her experience gave her a way to process her feelings and share her story.

Jordyn remained friends with a handful of students who stood by her during 7th grade, but also wanted to build new friendships. She said, “I am a new me, with a new, and better, perspective of life. I am grateful for who and what I have, and I appreciate the smallest acts of kindness. I notice the kinds of people I want to be around, and I can easily identify the people I would rather stay away from. I personally believe that this is a great trait to have, and something I will benefit from throughout my life. For that, I am thankful.”

This winter, Jordyn held a bake sale at a school event to raise awareness about bullying and bullying prevention. Many kids took stickers and pencils from the Create a World Without Bullying Resource Kit she purchased from PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to help educate younger students. She read books to the kids and talked to them about how they can help others and be a good friend. The kids also made some drawings to show how they can create a world without bullying. These drawings, along with a poster from the kit, were hung in the hallway of the school wing where the event took place.

Along with getting involved in her local community, Jordyn also wrote about her experience for a school project. Her story speaks more about her experience, the pain she felt while experiencing bullying, and what helped her. Read Jordyn's full story here.

My Safe Space

Another day has begun, and I start my morning. The process of getting ready to go to the place I dread most is not the slightest bit enjoyable. There is no place I hate more than my middle school, even though there used to be nothing more I loved than learning there, but it became a place where I was bullied for months on end, with no resolutions coming anytime soon. It’s funny how something so small can sprout into something so substantial and unmanageable. One person’s jealousy can spread rapidly like a disease. Anyways, I have no choice. I have to go to that awful school.

My parents are aware that I do not want to go to school; they are more in touch with the situation than you’d expect. They do not think I should be going either, but I refuse to homeschool for the rest of the year. I do not want those who are bullying me to think that they have won, because they have not. I go downstairs to eat, and my mom gives me a big hug. She does this every morning along with telling me how proud she is of me, and how much she loves me. She tells me I am so strong, brave, and smart. I know that it is true, but it is hard to accept any affection or admiration from anyone. My body rejects any sense of satisfaction because it is damaged from all of the heartbreak. I have been stripped of happiness, or at least that’s what it feels like.

I love my home because I feel safe there. No one can harm me there. The kids who are bullying me cannot talk to me, or shove me, or stare me up and down. They cannot do any of these things because I am protected by the walls of the only place that I feel secure. The moment I step out the front door of the house, I am exposed. I lose all the stability that I had at home. I walk to the bus.

On My Way

I hate being on the bus. The large, yellow, crowded bus. It is an awful way to start my already anxious and overwhelmed morning. I sit in an empty seat across from a girl who is my friend, I guess. She has not done anything to hurt me and has not turned on me, like practically everyone else. Although, she has not been there for me either. Not good, not bad… just neutral.

I take out my phone that was in my pocket along with my hands that are all scratched up. I scratch my hands when I get nervous or stressed, and it was very clear to see that I had been doing so recently. I listen to my calming playlist with my earbuds. I plug myself into a peaceful world and block out everyone and everything else. The bumps of the ride bounce everyone around, similar to the butterflies fluttering around inside of me. The hundreds of butterflies inside of me make me feel sick to my stomach, but it is a familiar feeling. The feeling stays with my all day, until I step back into my guarded home. The butterflies that are produced by my anxiety have become like a pet; always needing attention and care, and wanting to be near me all day. They do not like to go away, and I cannot get rid of them. So, I might as well tend to them. I begin to think about the day to come, and tears roll down my cheeks as fast as a river.

The bus halts. The stone building towers over me, while my fear consumes me. Taking over me and the butterflies. I pack up my phone and earbuds, and straighten myself up. I wipe the tears off my face and gather the strength to stand up. One step at a time, while my heart is pounding. Another day, I tell myself, one day at a time. I can do this. I did it yesterday, and the day before, and so on. What is one more day? I guess I will find out.

Lonely Halls

My school day begins the second I walk through the double doors. I shove my way past other kids to my locker. The 7th grade hallways are chaotic and very cliquey. Different groups of people separated in their circles, and have personal conversations within their groups. I make my way through the 7th grade halls encountering each cluster as I make my way. First there are the boys of my old friend group, some of whom I still like, for now at least. They each take their turn staring at me, and making their comments as I swerve by them with my head down. There are some other people here and there, but then come the girls I spend most of my days worrying about. I hear them whisper and giggle as I walk by, and I try to block them out. I hear one of them shout my name as she talks with the others and laugh. She is the one who I miss most; she was my best friend since I was two, until now. In my eyes, it is better to be the leader and dance to the beat of your own drum, but she is a follower. I despise the person she has become, but I know that it is her loss. Every time I hear her say my name it stings, but I do not let her see that.

I meet up with my friends and they ask what “they” have done so far. My friends refer to the people who bully me as “they,” mostly because they know a little piece of me miss the people who have hurt me, so it is upsetting to hear their names. I tell them, a few glares and some whispers. Nothing crazy yet. One responds, “That’s good,” and the other says, “At least no one has tried to trip you yet.” I laugh not because it is funny, but mostly because it is so sad that it is almost comical. That should not be an accomplishment, but welcome to my world. My world of whispers, stares, and ruthless people. The bell rings, and a sigh of relief rushes through my tense body. I don't really have many negative people in my first class, so it is a bit comforting to know I can try to have a quiet start to my academic day. All of this will end soon when I head to lunch, because that is when the bitter part of my day really begins. Until then I just think about all the possible things that could happen. At this point it really could be anything, since it is clear that people are capable of more than I imagined, particularly because I have known these people for years or at least I thought I did. It turns out that many people one encounters in their life turn out to be extremely two-faced.

Every Student, One Room

I make it through the first half of the day, but now it is time for lunch. This is the hardest part of my day. My whole grade in one room, and I have nowhere to hide. My few friends and I make our way into the cafeteria and I immediately lose my appetite. Since the bullying started with me, our group has split up. People started losing trust for each other, seeing people’s true colors, and taking sides in my situation. I used to sit next to my old best friend, but now I cannot stand looking at her. I have lost all respect for her, and she knows it. Right now she does not care because she is gaining popularity for dropping me, but I know she will regret it soon. I know the separation of my old group is not my fault, but sometimes it sure seems like it.

I sit with my closest friends now. They just make me happier, and that is not an easy thing at this point. I struggle a lot at lunch. I get nervous to get up to throw my trash out, because I will be exposed and out for everyone to see. Something like this seems ridiculous to most, but to me it is a very big deal. I try to keep myself invisible, because that way no one can harm me. I also do not eat much, because of the stress. It is hard to be hungry when your stomach is aching from nerves, not hunger. People shout my name across the cafeteria, so they can upset me. Deep down inside I know that they all just want the attention, since clearly it has become a trend to be against me.

I feel protected by my friends, but there is only so much they can do. It is not their job to worry about me, although this is what they do most of the time. I trust my close friends, especially because I know they are loyal. They are sticking with me through a time when it would be so much easier for them to leave me like everyone else did. They have lost friendships too, just to stand by me. I guess that proves that good can come out of the bad. I have found my real, true friends who love and support me. This is a perfect example of looking on the bright side. Sometimes I just have to remind myself of that.

A Positive Place

After the madness at lunch, I normally go to the guidance office. I like it there because it is such a positive place. There are inspirational posters on the wall, comfy furniture, plants, and overall it is just a happy place. It gives me a nice, warm pleasant feeling after feeling so gloomy all day. I go sit in the waiting room and read the posters and pictures on the walls. I always sit in the same chair, and I sit in that chair very often. I like the chair because no matter what angle you are looking through the doorway, you cannot see the chair. This way, none of my peers can see me and I feel safer there. Except at this point, everyone knows I basically live at the guidance office. They think it is funny, but what they do not know are the things I say about them in this safe space. I bet if they knew, they would not think it is as funny.

When I speak with the school counselor, she helps me a lot. She asks me how my day has been. I tell her it was not as bad, but it could be better. She tells me that it is improvement that I have a better attitude. She asks if I can make it through my next classes or if I want her to call my mom to pick me up. I do not want to seem weak, so I say I can push through and I go to my last classes of the day. This is not the case every day. I finish my school day and I rush to the bus. I always rush to the bus at the end of the day, so I can finally relax. When the bus pulls out of school and heads home a sigh of relief rushes through me. I make my way home and I feel secure again, back in my favorite, protected place.

By: Jordyn

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Remember it’s cool to be a N.E.R.D and stand up against bullying. Nice, Educated, Respectful, Determined

Posted: 2/19/2020

My name is Joshua Robert Thomas and I hope you will take a stand with me against bullying. The difficult thing about attending school today is that you see people putting others down, rather than picking them up. At my former middle school, there were a lot of fights and bullying. Going to school just to hang out with friends and learn was a hard thing for a lot of students, including me. Sad to say, but not much has changed as a current high school student. Since junior high, I have been thinking about how I can help stop bullying, not just at my school, but across the nation.

I have created a clothing line intended to raise awareness about bullying that happens across the globe. It is called Znerd. The Z comes from generation Z, which are children born in the early 1990’s-2010; we are also known as digital natives, the technical kids who help our parents. Our vision statement at Znerd is to promote bullying prevention with dedication, determination, and inspiration. The word N.E.R.D. stands for nice, educated, respectful, and determined, the characteristics that make our society a better place to live. If I can get students across the nation to understand this, together we can help prevent bullying and create a safe environment for those students with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, anger, and rage.

As you take a look at the sweatshirt in the picture, I would like to explain my unique design. Please bring your attention to the confident young man on the front of my shirt; this is me and I represent confidence and style. The first line, Znerd worldwide generation, is a reference to bringing awareness about the dangers of bullying across the world. I included my zip code for Iowa City, Iowa to represent my home town, where I came up with the concept for Znerd. On the back, you will see the letters S.T.B. and the emoji that stands for ‘Stop the Bullying.’ The emoji gives a look that says please, in a stern expression, leave me alone I am sick and tired of being bullied. As a young teen, I really believe in the importance of helping to stop this tragic epidemic.

Many of us are familiar with the old saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” That saying may have worked for some kids, but today I find that the mean and destructive words coming from students who are bullies are doing more damage than sticks and stones could ever do. As a young entrepreneur, student, sweatshirt designer, and human being, my goal is to have companies and schools across the globe purchase these shirts, and stand up to bullying! Please contact [email protected]m for more information. Remember it’s cool to be a N.E.R.D and to stand up against bullying: Nice, Educated, Respectful, and Determined!

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BULLY NO MORE! – A family musical that addresses bullying prevention

Posted: 12/10/2019

BULLY NO MORE! is a family musical with compelling characters and lively songs that celebrates the power of individuals to band together and stand up to bullying. The show inspires its audience to look out for one another, treat each other with kindness and respect, and “Hold On To Hope” in an imperfect world.

BULLY NO MORE! is appropriate for elementary, middle, high, and theatre camp students, and can be presented as a community service show by traveling children’s theatres, colleges, and community and professional theatres for younger audiences.

BULLY NO MORE! can also be presented as an interactive bullying prevention musical in elementary schools. The bullying prevention message is empowering throughout the school year. There is a BULLY NO MORE! Discussion Guide that can be used in conjunction with the musical in elementary schools.

The musical premiered in Vermont at The Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, a professional theatre that has hosted stars and symphony orchestras. BULLY NO MORE! sold out 13 shows and played to 3,000 audience members comprising children, families, and teachers. This is a family musical that can make a huge difference in children’s behavior!

For more information about the musical, visit https://www.concordtheatricals.com/p/65744/bully-no-more.

Watch this PSA with support from Daniel French, the Vermont Secretary of Education, Linda Johnson, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, composer, Jon Gailmor and creator/composer, Elaine Davida Sklar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGD4yRDwQlw&feature=youtu.be.

Also watch the wonderful and inspiring YouTube video of one of the songs in the musical, "I Feel Strong!" Bully No More! - I Feel Strong, https://youtu.be/qoW_MhdGc6E.

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Teen uses music to inspire hope

Posted: 12/10/2019

Please be advised, this article and music video contain sensitive subject matter about mental health and suicide.

Music and songwriting are great ways to express yourself. Emma is a 16-year-old from New Hampshire who started writing songs to work through her emotions, which has always been difficult for her. Emma says, “Songwriting has been my outlet and one of the most important things in my life, especially through my experiences with bullying, anxiety, and depression.” Emma wrote “The Death of a Taylor Swift Wannabe” in the hopes that her music could inspire others who are struggling. She dedicated the song to Taylor Swift because it was her music that first inspired Emma to start writing, and she believes that saved her life.

The video for the song was filmed with Emma’s friends from school and the social media messages seen in the video were not scripted. The messages are meant to show how harmful cyberbullying can be. “We felt like this video needed to touch the hearts of anyone that has ever been hurt by words and what the impact can be if we are not mindful of what we say, no matter if this is on social media or in person,” said Emma. The purpose of the storyline is to show how dark social media and cyberbullying can be. On the intense subject matter of the music video, Emma wants everyone to know, “Suicide is a reality that we hear about, and I have been bullied and have suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. I also know that I am not alone. There are so many teens out there suffering and I want to stand up and make a difference through my music.”

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LIKE US

Posted: 10/18/2019

A FILM FOR KIDS BY KIDS ABOUT BULLYING AWARENESS AND PREVENTION

The Family School Association Performing Arts Program of The Ethical Community Charter School, together with THISLEARNING® along with 72 students created the Award Winning Film LIKE US in a free afterschool program. LIKE US is a live action short film (45 minutes) and recent winner of 'BEST LOCAL FILM'' and 'BEST DIRECTOR OF A SHORT FILM' at the 2019 Golden Door International Film Festival. It was also nominated for 'FILMS THAT RAISE AWARENESS,' 'FILMMAKERS OF TOMORROW AWARD,' and 'BEST ACTRESS IN A SHORT FILM for Sofia Santomauro (age 10).

The non profit FSA Performing Arts Program at The Ethical Community Charter School in Jersey City, NJ (TECCS) has a mission to provide performing arts related experiences and opportunities to all interested students after school no matter their family economics.

LIKE US Overview

LIKE US is live action short film. It is a film for kids, by kids. The screenplay was written by ten students in grades 6-8 over a period of 10 weeks. It shows how a group of five students overcome the intimidation and intolerable cruelty by some of their peers The director is Professional Educator and Television host Kris Van Nest, also Executive Producer of the online media network THISLEARNING®. Assistant Director, Ann E. Wallace, is a published poet and Associate Professor of English at New Jersey City University. The project was produced by Middle schoolers and a growing group of volunteer parents lead by Kim Correro.

LIKE US Film Synopsis

The Shooting Star Youth Challenge is coming to town, and Cory, Fatin, Lana, Astrid, and Trevor have each been unable to find a team. In a chance meeting in the school office, the Principal asks the group of outcasts—rejected for their gender identity, disability, and personalities—to band together for the competition. Some of the students are not too happy to be forced onto a team of kids that no one else wants, and, believing the terrible things that other kids say about them, they are sure they will lose. They soon learn, however, that each one has a special talent and that the C Flats, as they have decided to call themselves, are a real contender. But as the big day approaches, the team members are shaken by comments made online and in person about them. Together they rebuild their confidence and are ready to compete. However, they soon learn that Lana has been facing a much larger challenge than shooting a basket or nailing a standup comedy routine, when, in a moment of desperation, she confides that she is homeless. Faced with a difficult dilemma, the team must decide where to put its efforts, on making it to States or on helping their friend against her wishes. When the group steps up to help their new friend, serendipitously aided by a group of stagehands who spread the news about Lana online, we see that what makes these kids winners are not the skills they bring to Shooting Star but the size of their hearts.

Bring LIKE US to Your School or Community

Help LIKE US raise awareness for bullying prevention by bringing the movie to your city and school. Email [email protected]

Press

Read the article in March’s Macaroni Kid magazine, Film Program Teaches Kids More Than Just Film Making

https://www.nj.com/hudson/2019/09/established-filmmakers-and-up-and-comers-will-show-off-work-at-the-9th-annual-golden-door-film-festival.html

https://www.nj.com/hudson/2019/09/student-screenwriters-tackle-bullying-in-like-us-premiering-at-golden-door-international-film-festival.html

https://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwtv/article/Marin-Mazzie-to-be-Honored-in-Student-Film-LIKE-US-20190918

Social Media
Instagram: @fsaperformingarts
Facebook: @fsaperformngarts
#LIKEUSMovie

By: KC

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Sean's First Day

Posted: 6/17/2019

Sean’s First Day of School, produced by South African independent filmmaker Niki Gower, is a wonderful short film about the impact students have on creating a welcoming and caring school community, and how this can, in turn, help create a world without bullying.

This film was made by the students from a public secondary school on the main island of Mahé in the Seychelles, off the east coast of Africa. Niki explains, “I was approached by a teacher from Belonie Secondary School. Ms. Esther Fernandes-Villela wanted to work on a video project with a group of students who had shown an interest in arts and culture. We left it up to the kids to decide what the topic would be, with the only guideline being that it needed to address a problem or cause in their school or community. They chose bullying. With a loose script, we met up on a Saturday; the kids sacrificed their weekend to do so. We had a lot of fun putting this together and the children were very enthusiastic. The film was subsequently entered into the Seychelles Festival National Du Film d'Education, where it won first place. More importantly it was screened in a packed auditorium filled with school students, teachers, and parents—the audience it was intended for. I really hope that what we created goes on to educate and inspire thousands of others to stand up against bullying, in all its forms.”

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“Can We Create a World Without Bullying?” Pepperdine School of Public Policy Weighs in on The Debate!

Posted: 6/10/2019

On March 26th, 315 students packed Elkins Auditorium at Pepperdine University to hear the Pepperdine Waves Debate Team and students from the Woodlake Elementary “Let’s Argue” class debate the premise that we can “Create a World Without Bullying.” In addition to the debate, the Pepperdine School of Public Policy sent Dr. Luisa Raynal to give closing remarks and a master’s program student, Andrew Phillips, to look at translating conclusions into policy.

After watching the debate, receiving feedback from attendees, and using information found on pacer.org/bullying, Andrew created a one-page summary to inspire the Pepperdine community to take action against bullying. While encouraging everyone to work together to change cultural and social norms, he also acknowledged that while “using education and civil discourse to promote social and emotional learning is an effective way” to create change around bullying, adults must also “model the behavior we want our children to emulate.”

Thank you, Andrew Phillips and the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, for inspiring change in your community and beyond.

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The Gemstone Heart

Posted: 6/7/2019

Hello, my name is Jaida Rogers.

The reason why I was interested in making the video about bullying is because I was bullied from 1st grade all the way until 8th grade. During this time, I would see other people around me getting bullied as well. Seeing that made me feel very sad and disappointed knowing that there are people out there other than me that were being bullied. But not only was I sad for those that were being bullied but also for the people that were doing the bullying.

I know that people don’t do something unless they have a reason for it. I believe that the people that are bullying others are going through something in their school or at home. In my film, that is part of the reason why I had the target show kindness to the person that was bullying her.

The reason the video is called Gemstone Heart is because the gemstone heart represents the personality and heart of the target. A gemstone is very hard to find and is therefore very rare. However, once you do and you get a good look at it, it's very beautiful and you wonder why the earth can’t have these stones all over the place and why they aren't easier to find. And this holds true for the victim as well in my film. The victim is very rare, meaning her personality and the way she views things is very hard to find, but once you find a person like her you become very impressed and fond of that person.

Thank you for taking the time and looking at my film.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does being kind impact a bullying situation?
  2. Does all bullying stop when someone is kind, and if not, what more can be done?

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Paper feathers show “No Place for Hate”

Posted: 6/6/2019

What happens when two teachers put their heads together to come up with a bullying prevention project for their students? More than 550 paper feathers decorated by students become a giant multicolored peace dove accompanied by the words “No Place For Hate.”

Hidden Valley Elementary School in Savage, MN, has a diverse student population that represents 20 languages. Art teacher Sara Merkel and school social worker Kristen Reichert thought it was important for their students to hear positive messages about kindness, acceptance, and inclusion within the school. They thought of a giant peace dove and chose 20 student leaders, called “student ambassadors,” to cut out 550 paper feathers and hand them out to individual students to color.

Those students, and the school’s faculty and staff, did not know what the purpose would be for the paper feathers project. Then, one day, those 550 feathers became a giant display near the school’s entrance and office. Parents, staff, and students from the entire school were surprised and in awe of the beautiful artwork and kind message.
“It’s really important for all kids to know that they’re welcome and safe and wanted here,” Kristen Reichert told the Savage Pacer newspaper, adding that the project taught students the “purpose here is to be kind and helping to our friends.”

Some of these ideas were inspired by Kristen, who attended PACER’s symposium and learned more about educational resources for bullying prevention.

This project impacted teachers and students. “You shouldn’t bully,” said Hanan Dayib, a fifth grader who participated in coloring one of the paper feathers. “It’s not really a nice thing.”

This art project is not the only activity aimed at helping students feel safe at school. Teachers, staff, and leaders throughout the school district have taken training to help participants become more culturally aware and sensitive to students’ needs. One outcome in Sara Merkel’s classroom is that she works to include a variety of cultures in her classes. For example, she recently included a Somali folk tale called “The Lion’s Share” as part of the classroom activities. By creating culturally diverse activities in class, students see that teachers are kind, accepting, and supportive people.

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Rocking Kindness

Posted: 6/5/2019

Grande Innovation Academy, in Casa Grande, AZ, made this video in response to the 'Rocking Kindness' theme they are celebrating during October's National Bullying Prevention Month. The 5th graders, with their science and math teacher, Mr. Reginald Parulan, wanted to share the important message of speaking up against bullying.

Duration: 7 minutes and 28 seconds
Actors & Actresses: 5th Grade Class 2017-2018 of Grande Innovation Academy
Videographer & Editor: Mr. Reginald Parulan, 5th Grade Teacher at Grande Innovation Academy

Discussion questions provided by the students:

  1. Why do we need to talk about bullying?
  2. What can you do to help someone (and be safe doing it) who is experiencing bullying?
  3. What can you do to help prevent or stop bullying at your school, online or in the community?

Mr. Parulan shared, "Let's all share the same goal of creating communities that are united in kindness, acceptance and inclusion."

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Send Us Your Story or Video

Submit a video, story, poem, artwork, or audio clip expressing how you feel about bullying, how you think it affects students and schools, what you have done to prevent bullying, or what others can do to prevent bullying.

[email protected]