The Kiberan community highlighted that:
1. Bullying is rampant and a risk to the emotional stability of their students.
2. Students trying to safely get to school are often met with intimidation by those selling drugs and unwilling to let them pass by.
3. Poverty and fear play a large role in bullying.
4. Students are hurt by, observe and mirror extremely aggressive language and actions from their role models.
a. Annie writes: “Students are taught violence from the start and that clearly showed in their skits. Our youngest boy was the bully in one skit and saying he was going to cut off their lips, face and head. Words like fuck, bitch, slut were all used.”
5. Rather than lead with inspiration and empowerment, leaders often use bullying to acquire power over others.
To reduce bullying in both Kibera and Fairfield County, CT, our LEAP team decided to write and perform anti bullying skits that represent middle and high school realities in our disparate communities.
To succeed, we agreed to engage in the following process:
1. Write monologues, skits and dance to represent:
- Self abuse
- Anorexia, male and female
- Anxiety and Depression
- Peer pressure
- In school
- On the bus
- Stereotypes: based on race, religion, intelligence
2. Perform skits to a local middle school community
3. Follow up the performance with UMEWE reflections:
- Students write down anonymous topics they feel are weakening their confidence and their community
- Using these topics, LEAP students inspire and lead discussion about:
- how to support each other in situations that are hurtful
- how to stand up to the bully
- how to communicate their needs
- how to support a friend
- how to avoid being a victim
- how to choose friends wisely
4. Share the impact, assessment and lessons learned with Kibera partners asking them to educated us on bulling in Kibera.
5. Create an anti bullying walk-a- thon to increase awareness of bullying in the Stamford, CT community
6. Create a Judgment Free Zone Gala with anti bullying art, and poetry
- Held in Darien, CT, and
- Attended by students and parents from diverse LEAP communities who normally do not spend time together.
Both times that we performed at Dolan Diversity Day, we were on stage in front of 500 students and teachers. We inspired, laughter, edge of the seat nerves, “oh’s and ah’s”, and most importantly, successfully engaged the audience around issu that are real, every day and the root cause of serious negative impact on a student’s personal growth.
This alone would have been enough, but we all feel that the most important impact we made at Dolan Middle School was identifying 6 students at risk of self harm. We are humbled that our program, our voices, our time with these students somehow gave theses students permission to reveal that they were suffering in silence considering hurting themselves.
Our assessment is that honest peer to peer conversations are rare and powerful. Our assessment is that the UMEWE topic jar is a very powerful tool for:
- inspiring voice,
- creating a judgment free zone,
- breaking down social, economic, religious and racial barriers
- building community,
- learning how to collaborate and support our peers
Kibera discovered the same thing. Students who engaged in the skits revealed the extent of the bullying and aggression that they live with. Without this tool, the students, teachers and mentors did not have a means by which to inspire students to WANT to engage in both naming their issues, and using their own fears to positively impact themselves and their peers.
Chris Bogart reflects: “I truly believe that what you have created is such a critical initiative, both for the “privileged” communities and for the urban communities.”
Christopher M. Bogart, Ph.D.
The Southfield Center for Development
October 7, 2013
Bullying is When…
“Bullying is when a person will do anything for attention, except listen. That same person that bullies you, has no feelings for him/herself.”
-Voshon Natteal, Stamford High School Student
Haunted by the Past
“I think that the biggest bullies are the people who’s prey is the past.”
“I am a reformed bully, and a lot of people talk about how I was. It is hard to look forward when everyone else is looking back.
It is a horrible feeling, like having a bad credit and listening to people remind you of your mistakes. The past holds you back.
It is like you did something years ago and people tease you about it.
Dealing with something that is done is not fun. I feel like its an addiction, and you are subliminally being peer-pressured back into doing what you use to do.”
-Brandon, Stamford High School Student