ADAMS TOWNSHIP — At an all-day anti-bullying program for Clinton-Massie sixth-graders, about 90 percent of students indicated they have stood by silently when they wanted to stand up for somebody or something.
The students were participating in ReDo Day presented by the Violence Free Coalition of Warren County. ReDo is an acronym for “Respect Engage Defend Overcome”.
An adult program facilitator said much of the time there is someone nearby who sees or hears another person being bullied. And if a bystander says something to oppose the bullying, a study states it will decrease future bullying, advised the facilitator.
“I want to encourage you to say something — ‘Hey stop.’ ‘That’s mean.’ ‘You need to cut it out.’ ‘Get out of here.’ ‘I’m going to tell on you.’ Say something,” the facilitator recommended.
During an afternoon activity, students were asked to walk to the other side of the gym when they heard a facilitator make a statement that applied to them. In this way, students learn others’ stories and realize that everyone has struggles. In turn, they become more likely to make the choice to build others up instead of tearing others down.
There were statements such as “Walk to the other side if you have been compared to your sibling in a negative way by a parent, teacher or another adult.” Or, “Please step out of the crowd if a loved one has ever passed away as a result of drugs, alcohol or tobacco.”
Or, “Walk to the other side if you currently have a close family member with a serious medical illness, physical disability, or a drug or alcohol addiction.”
During the activity, there were students who walked over to hug or comfort other students, even walking across the gym. At the event there were boxes of tissues which both girls and boys needed.
One of the presenters conjured up an image she wanted the students to remember. She said suppose everyone walking into the school had an invisible backpack and inside the backpack are rocks or feathers. The rocks, she said, are negative comments that pull the recipient down whereas the feathers are good things.
“We can either add to the heaviness, or make it lighter,”she remarked.
One of the statements asked students to walk to the other side if one or both parents had said on many different occasions ‘you’re a bad kid’, ‘you’re not good enough’, or ‘you’re never going to make it’. Later, when students were asked what stood out about the activity, one said they were surprised how many parents didn’t think their child would make it.
Time was set aside for students to publicly apologize to other specific students if they wished.
On Sept. 6, Clinton-Massie freshman participated in a ReDo Day of their own, and it was on Sept. 13 that Clinton-Massie sixth-graders took part in the program.
Clinton-Massie School Social Worker Rachel Sams said both ReDo Days helped improve the school climate by helping students to build compassion and understanding with their peers.
“ReDo Day provides a platform for students to voluntarily share their story with others in a way that helps connect them to their peers. When students are able to connect with their peers and feel others truly understand them, we can begin to break down the barriers of social isolation and encourage an inclusive culture of respect where kids feel accepted and cared for by their peers,” said Sams.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.