Battling Bullying

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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.

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.

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