Battling Bullying

Students nationwide headed back to school this week.  Doubtlessly, this happening resulting in much anxiety for parents and children alike.  Wonders about new teachers, different schedules and new routines had to be abundant, and for some, wonders about another kind of worry are bound to have arisen: bullying.

abcnews.com

abcnews.com

Bullying has become a major problem for students.  The National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice statistics reports that 28 percent of students nationwide in grades 6–12 experienced bullying in 2011.  Bullying is a critical issue because it can lead to serious behavioral consequences like poor performance in school, depression, anxiety, and even suicide.

Lyle Cogen, an artist and educator from Merrick, N.Y., is vowing to tame this trend.  Cogen is producing a one-woman musical, Sticks & Stones, this fall to help children identify, respond to and prevent bullying behaviors.  “I’ve been working in schools for many years, witnessing things around me, listening to teachers speak about kids and the challenges that children were feeling,” said Cogen. “I started thinking about it so much, that I began developing a character study on bullies.”

Sticks & Stones catalogs different themes like how to identify changes in friendships, how to speak out when you see something, and how adults can react to these behaviors in their very own children.  Cogen points out that, “Sometimes when you are a victim of bullying, you can become a big bully yourself. I’ve seen that play out, where victimized kids turn around and show aggression toward somebody else.”

The musical ends with a discussion session where kid viewers can actively reflect on the performance.  According to Cogen, this is the most important part because it creates awareness and a springboard for discussion.  The musical will tour in Ohio, Texas, and other states this fall.

Lisa Steffek

About Lisa Steffek

Lisa Steffek is a third year student at the University of Houston Law Center. Lisa completed her Bachelors, Masters and Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Texas in Human Development and Family Sciences. As an undergraduate, Lisa worked as a research assistant studying child attachment. Lisa also worked for several years at The Settlement Home, a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolescent females. Most of the girls at The Settlement Home had been removed from their homes by Child Protective Services, and Lisa worked with the girls to teach them life-skills and provided psychological treatment to prepare them for adulthood and the transition to foster homes. Lisa also worked for six years in various academic capacities at the University of Texas, including an undergraduate teaching assistant, graduate research assistant, and undergraduate writing consultant. Lisa has presented papers regarding human development at various academic conferences in the states and abroad, and has had her writing published in an international, academic journal.

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