Jodee Blanco, a survivor of school bullying and author of the New York Times bestselling memoir series “Please Stop Laughing at Me,” wants to bring her bullying prevention program, “It’s NOT Just Joking Around,” to Halifax County Middle School.
“I’m one of the early pioneers of the anti-bullying movement, having dedicated my life to this issue for the past two decades. I travel to schools and communities sharing my story to motivate change. To date, I’ve spoken to thousands of students, teachers and parents worldwide,” said Blanco in her proposal for implementing the program.
If she comes, she plans to give four live presentations over the course of one day to include two 75-minute student presentations, one 90-minute after-school professional development workshop and a one-hour evening parent/family seminar.
Her primary message to students is three-fold: “bullying is not just joking around, it damages you for life; bullying just isn’t the mean things you do, it’s all the nice things you never do; and if you’re being bullied or shunned, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s everything that’s right about you that makes you a target, and you shouldn’t change for anyone. It is those who put you down who need to change.”
In addition to the re-enactment of her school days, during which that tri-tiered message is continually reinforced, she also gives students specific advice on how to handle what she calls “elite tormentors, the mean members of the cool crowd, insights on digital bullying and its impact, and how to heal.
“I conclude the student presentation with an empathy exercise that brings my anti-bullying message home on a visceral and deeply personal level,” she said.
After each presentation, she makes herself available for one-on-one sessions with any student.
During the faculty presentation, she tries to take teachers and administrators “inside the heart and mind of the victim, the bully and the bystander.”
It gives teachers and staff the chance to learn what not to say to a bullied child, what a teacher should say, how to help a bully and or a victim, the types of bullied students, types of popular students, the typical profile of a bullied child, how to intervene when a child is bullied, the biggest mistake a parent and teacher makes when a child is bullied and how to think like a kid and apply that skill to save a young life.
The evening, family seminar gives parents a chance to reconnect with their school years, so they can better relate to their children’s experiences.
She also walks parents through the typical clichés adults use on bullied kids and why they don’t work. She then offers fresh and effective alternatives to those clichés.
Blanco helps parents learn warning signs of a child being a bully or a victim and how to intervene, how to work with the school and how to spot the warning signs a child may be suicidal due to bullying or may be contemplating violence.
The program also includes a comprehensive 12-themed follow-up curriculum that keeps the message of compassion and forgiveness alive the rest of the school year.
“All my methodologies, the crux of everything I do in the anti-bullying space, is based on core values of compassion, tolerance and forgiveness,” said Blanco.
Middle school teacher Jessica Young has been working hard to ensure the school system can bring Blanco and her program to the middle school by fundraising and selling anti-bullying bands.
The orange bands that say “Stand Up Against Bullying” are being sold for $3 each.
To purchase a band, contact Young, Emerson Pambid, Brandee Lloyd or stop by The Busy Bean in South Boston or Scottsburg NAPA.
Cash or checks also can be donated directly to the middle school or HCPS. Young also is accepting donations via PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
Initiated by PACER in 2006, National Bullying Prevention Month is supported by hundreds of schools, community members, major corporations and celebrities, and it is an opportunity to encourage everyone to act with kindness, acceptance and inclusion.