Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reduce Bullying With Books and Theater

Bullying in schools happens everywhere, everyday, and often times gets overlooked. A recent article in TYA Today (Theatre for Young Audiences Today) notes that each year, "3.7 million youth engage in bullying, and more than 3.2 million are victims of 'moderate' or 'serious' bullying.'" For many teachers, authors, and celebrities as of late, performing arts and literature have been two main ways to reduce harassment, or at least to teach kids possible solutions when faced with a bully., for example, encourages theater role-playing in the classroom and promotes several social justice performing arts organizations, who offer plays like You Didn't Do Anything! These groups perform plays which "depict the negative consequences of bullying...illustrate strategies to address bullying...and offer ways for children to either prevent or cope with bullying." Actors write and perform dramas to help kids better understand discrimination, intolerance, and sexism, and deal with those issues in a safe space.

On the other side of the spectrum, literature has been a main source for powerful anti-bullying messages. Books like Tomie DePaola's Oliver Button Is A Sissy and Andrew Clements Jake Drake Bully Buster give children and teens the opportunity to see strong characters overcome harassment. Even rapper 50 Cent, who used to write violent lyrics about dealing with abuse, has contributed to the literary cause. In June 2011, the rapper signed a deal with Penguin's Young Reader Group to pen a book called Playground, set to release later this month. The book follows a bully's point-of-view and "attempts to explore where the cycle of abuse begins," according to an article on

Whether it's written word on stage or in a library book, educators have begun to tackle harassment in schools and provide kids with helpful resources.

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