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Students at Sycamore Junior High in Ohio Stand Against Bullying in Making the NEVER EVER Music Video

As music video director Dawn Bierschwal listened to Keenan West’s “Never Ever,” she realized it was a song that could provide inspiration for the kids standing on the sidelines of bullying to “Never Ever” leave those being bullied alone. Having the courage to stand up for the kids being bullied is something Bierschwal tries to teach her two teens who have experienced the horror of a bully-related teen suicide in their own school district. That death was the result of a text message, one of the scenarios portrayed in the video.  Most of the kids in the video are from the Sycamore Junior High in Montgomery, Ohio – a school committed to ending bullying and in that same school district.

“We’re trying to teach kids that teasing, exclusion, and intolerance don’t have to be rites of passage through adolescence,” says Principal Karen Naber. “When we empower kids to embrace differences and stand up for one another, we believe they will choose respect and kindness as their rites of passage instead.” West kicked off production of the video with a concert for the Ohio school held in conjunction with one of its bullying prevention assemblies. The school used the whole video production process as a way to reinforce the lessons school leaders are trying to teach.

The video was cast with more than 40 kids from the school’s drama club who were in the process of rehearsing a musical called “13,” a show about coming of age with similar themes. Theater Director Kylie Parks loved the idea of these kids making the video at the same time they were rehearsing for the musical. She felt it would help them better relate to their characters’ experiences. When Bierschwal asked the “13” cast if they, or someone they knew, had ever been bullied, every hand in the room went up. As a result, the students didn’t just act and sing background vocals, they contributed to many of the scenarios shown in the video drawing from their own experiences.

“It was so rewarding to see how the kids related and responded to the song’s message,” says West. “It was an incredible experience to have so many of them thank us for making this video and proactively tell us that, as a result of being involved, they are more aware of the bullying around them and will no longer stand on the sidelines.” Some of the students have even expressed interest in taking a leadership role in bullying prevention efforts as they transition to the high school next year.

As someone who was bullied herself, Bierschwal understands the pain it can cause – the chalk scene in the video came from her own experience – but more importantly, she understands the difference it can make when another child takes the risk, and has the courage, to be there for someone who is bullied. “When you feel like you are ‘Never Ever’ alone it can make the difference between wanting to take your own life and being able to move on from the experience,” says Bierschwal. “I hope my own children never have to experience what I did. But if they do, I hope there will be kids who have the courage to be there for them.”

While West wasn’t bullied as a kid, the more he learned about the nationwide bullying issue, the more he was committed to doing something about it. “I was one of the kids standing on the sidelines, and what I realize now,” says West “is that I was just as wrong as the bullies themselves. We need to make it cool to stand up to bullying.”

Bierschwal and West approached PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center about partnering with the organization because PACER’s focus and message is similar to what they wanted to convey through their video. As they talked to PACER about wanting to give kids the courage to stand up against bullying, they learned that PACER was developing its "FIND THE COURAGE" campaign. The goal of the campaign is to creatively provide students with the education and empowerment to take action. PACER has now made the video a key part of the campaign and West is donating 50 cents from every digital download of "Never Ever" to support PACER’s work.

Get Involved

  • Watch the NEVER EVER music video on YouTube
  • Purchase NEVER EVER on itunes. For every download PACER receives 50 cents.
  • Play the NEVER EVER music video in your classroom, club and organization and follow up with discussion questions that are listed below.
    • What is the main message of the video?
    • How did you feel when you saw those kids getting picked on?
    • What do you think the kids getting picked on felt?
    • What can having a friend or having support do for those being bullied or picked on?
    • How does one person showing courage impact others?
    • If you were being bullied, do you think it would mean more to you to have another teen or an adult stand up for you?
    • What are some ways to show support for someone being bullied without having to directly confront the bully?
    • One of the student who was bullying ultimately stands against bullying.  Why do you think he does?
    • Why do you think bullying happens?  How does the video show that?
    • Can a group of students change how their peers are treated?
  • Visit Keenan West’s website
  • Visit Keenan West on Facebook
  • Electronic Press Kit