Don’t Repeat After Me…
Last week Sarah blogged about our Primary anti-bullying show ‘Influenced’, this week she takes a look at ‘Repeat After Me’, and how our key stage three project can impact young people’s views and understanding about bullying.
If I had a pound for every time people have suggested fighting back at bullies by giving them a taste of their own medicine, I’d be laughing. Even some of the people in my life, friends and family, whose opinions I usually deeply respect hold the belief that this vengeful behaviour is the only way for victims to stop themselves being subjected to bullying behaviour.
As a result I find myself arguing until I’m blue in the face to make my point. What concerns me most about this happening, is that by passing the blame, passing the punches or the hurtful taunts, we are never able to focus on and challenge the reason that behaviour ever occurred in the first place. I’m not denying how difficult it must be to keep going to school and face the bullies each day, or to constantly be under attack from cyber bullies, but essentially, no amounts of pay back will ever solve the situation.
Maybe the key lies in increasing understanding and developing emotional intelligence- unless we enable young people to empathise with each other and accept how their actions could make others feel, what incentive are we giving them to stop? Young people know right from wrong, they know bullying is wrong, yet it still occurs. I suggest that rather than lecturing them about this, we allow them to explore the motives behind their actions, and give an insight into the actions of others.
Let’s take a look at those who do bully others for a moment; whilst this behaviour often comes from jealousy, low self-esteem or a place of unhappiness, many adults will still try to ‘deal’ with the issue with a series of detentions or isolation. But without acknowledging and understanding why this person’s self-esteem is so low, or their personal circumstances, we and they will struggle to change their behaviour long term.
One of the characters in ‘Repeat After Me’ who always receives a strong response from the young people who view it is Carly. Carly is outwardly confident, using her social power to manipulate those around her into joining in with her games and rumours. But behind the bravado and bitchiness lies an incredibly insecure girl, fronting the attitude to hide her low self-confidence. Throughout the play we see her sabotage friendships, spread rumours and cause chaos among her peer group, until her friends all turn against her and ignore her. Only then does she apologise.
When we discuss this character in workshops, the students are usually split with regards to whether they think she will change. Some think she was genuinely sorry, didn’t realise the impact she was having on others and will make a marked change in the future, whilst others think Carly will struggle to make any significant or lasting differences to her behaviour without the support of a pastoral mentor, another appropriate adult or her peers.
As with Carly, many young people who bully others have very low self-esteem, and may have been victims of bullying themselves. Quite simply, we cannot sit by and allow this cycle to continue, rather we need to step in and give these young people the emotional understanding and support they need if we really want to see a reduction in bullying.
That is why I am so excited to begin our 2013 Triple R season in the next academic year.
You can Contact Us for more information or to book ‘Repeat After Me’ for your school.
Or you can Click Here for a trailer and testimonials for the project
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