This week’s So You Think You Can Dance episode (on Fox) featured an emotionally serious group routine focused on bullying, a major public health problem. One of choreographer Bonnie Story’s themes in this piece, danced to “Tears of an Angel” by Ryandan, is the fact that bullying exists, in part, because bystanders let it happen.
A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to talk with 1st and 2nd graders about this topic. One of our lessons was that there are three parties involved in bullying: the bully, the victim and any bystander. One of my challenges was how to help children understand how they should react when they see bullying, including keeping in mind their own safety.
As I discussed in “SYTYCD: Left AND Right Brain Inspiration“, I enjoy watching this show and the fact that the performances can have public health connections meaning beyond the creative experience. I loved the choreography of this piece (which made me misty-eyed…sniff) and the way the dancers expressed it, with light and dark and emotions. I also appreciated that Ms. Story helped the dancers prepare by connecting with her friend, whose experience inspired her work. Ok, wow!
And, now that we have cried, reflected or otherwise been moved by this dance…what can and should we do? What can and should we teach our children to do? The next step of this dance can be into the world of real of stopping and preventing bullying.
Fortunately, there are many good online resources with specific advice about this particular aspect of bullying, i.e., about bystanders. Schools, not-for-profit organizations, health organizations, governments and others are really working on this issue, which affects millions of girls and boys each year (at least 30%, according to the CDC).
Here are a few:
- A 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fact sheet on bullying (including a definition)
- Eyes on Bullying.org web page on Bystanders (including how to be helpful and toolkit called “What Can You Do“)
- Stop Bullying.gov – with resources for parents, educators, community members, teens and kids
- Vassar College’s web page on Bystander Intervention (related to sexual assault, relationship abuse and stalking, because the bystander issue applies to adult situations, too)
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