Oilfields students stand up to bullying

Education: Program gets youth thinking about how their words affect others

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013 06:00 am

From left: Alexi Oborne, Cevanna Carlson and Breeze Graham participated in the Dare to Care awareness program at Oilfields High School in Black Diamond.
From left: Alexi Oborne, Cevanna Carlson and Breeze Graham participated in the Dare to Care awareness program at Oilfields High School in Black Diamond.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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An Oilfields High School student was nervous and shaking when stepping to the microphone to make an apology, but he was not alone.

Grade 8 student Breeze Graham was one of many to stand before their peers and make an apology for past actions. For Graham, it was to his best friend.

“We used to get in fights a lot,” he said. “We made up a month ago, but I wanted to let her know I really was sorry so I went up there.”

Graham’s friend forgave him, but in some cases students who mustered the courage to make their public apologies were not forgiven.

This was one of many exercises the school’s Grade 7 and 8 students participated in the Dare to Care, Take the Time seminar at the Black Diamond school on Dec. 10.

Guidance counselor Paulette Morck helped bring the program to Grade 7 and 8 students to instigate a change in thinking among the school’s younger students.

Facilitators who came into the school last week had students participate in a variety of activities to reflect on their actions and the actions of others.

“Throughout the whole day they challenged the kids to be thinking about what they can do so that their school is free from negativity,” said Morck. “It was good awareness for the teachers, too.”

The students watched a video showing the point of view of students who were bullied and how they reacted afterwards. Morck said some turned to eating, others cutting and some suffer from mental illnesses even as adults.

“I’ve had kids who were infuriated by the way kids were treated in that movie,” she said. “It’s pretty easy to cast judgment on another community you don’t know and that’s a pretty extreme situation, but we see that here.”

The presenters spoke to students about the strength of words and the impact they have on people. They also explained 80 per cent of bullying happens by 20 per cent of students and most of the population does nothing to stop it, Morck said.

“There’s this silent majority in the background that just let it happen and there is this tiny group of kids who care and try to do something,” she said. “Let’s change that so it’s the caring majority.”

Students were asked to rate their courage levels in different situations, such as standing up to a student picking on someone. They were also asked questions about situations that might have happened to them such as receiving a mean note from someone or was called a bad name.

Morck said the facilitators told students to ask themselves four questions before sending nasty emails, texts or letters to others including: if they could say it to the person’s face, if they would want that letter sent to them, if they could read it in front of the class and if they could read it in front of their family. They were told if they answer no to any one of those questions they should not send it.

The most touching for Morck was when students were invited to thank, apologize or talk about something that happened to them. Those too shy to speak in front of their peers were given the opportunity to make private apologies.

“You saw kids walk around and say sorry and they were crying and hugging,” she said.

Grade 7 student Alexi Oborne said it was amazing watching students make apologizes.

“There were a lot of sorries,” she said. “Some of the bullies went up there and really said sorry to individuals and I think that was really nice of them.”

Watching the video about how bullying can affect youth made Oborne realize just how serious it is. She said she’s eager to see some change in her school as a result of the seminar.

“One of the Dare to Care people said it’s not going to change in a week or a month, it’s going to change over the years and I think it really will,” she said. “I think it will just get passed on to people.”

Oborne said she hasn’t been bullied at Oilfields High School, but knows it does go on.

“I think we see a lot more bullying today because of electronics so people don’t say stuff to each other’s faces,” she said.

“I just want everyone to be a part of the no bullying solution.”

Grade 8 student Cevanna Carlson had a different experience in the school. She said she felt very excluded in her Grade 7 year due to cliques in her class.

“I think they see it as a joke sometimes,” she said.

Carlson said it wasn’t a joke for her and was touched seeing students step forward to make apologies for things they did.

“Everybody was crying,” she said.

Morck said staff will organize events throughout the year to continue this message of being mean and hurtful to others is not okay in the school and to turn the attitude towards being more positive or neutral.

She said staff has brought in groups to address bullying the last six years and expects to see some change over time.

To learn more about the program go to Daretocare.ca/middle-school/take-the-time/


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