Beating the bullies
By Gary Standley
Young people from across Norfolk, in connection with BBC Voices, have made films about how bullying has affected their lives and how they want it stamped out for Anti-Bullying Week 2008.
School should be where young people go to learn and make new friends. For some, it's not that easy. Bullying can make school anything but a safe place.
Bullying singles out a person - they can be bullied for just being themselves. This year the message for Anti-Bullying Week is 'Being different, belonging together'. The awareness week for 2008 runs from 17 - 21 November, 2008.
To mark the event, BBC Voices joined forces with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to make a series of films about the lives of children in Norfolk.
"Our theme is all about difference and diversity. We know that difference is at the heart of most bullying whether real or perceived. Young people are often bullied because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability," said Rita Adair, Specialist Senior Educational Psychologist and Eastern Regional Adviser for the Anti-Bullying Alliance.
The alliance hopes to raise awareness
"Recent surveys suggest that 60% of young people with special educational needs, eight out of ten people with disabilities and almost two thirds of young gay, lesbian and bisexual people experience bullying in school. We need to celebrate the differences and the similarities between us," she added.
Stamping out bullying
Rita Adair approached BBC Voices about making a series of films that give young people a chance to talk about themselves.
The completed short films were titled 'This is Me' and they look at the young people's lives, the things they do and their thoughts on bullying.
Five schools across Norfolk are taking part in the week: Clare School in Norwich, Edward Worlledge Community Junior School in Great Yarmouth, Fred Nicholson School in Dereham, King Edward VII High School in Gaywood and Long Stratton High School.
Teachers from these schools attended a film making workshop at BBC Voices in The Forum, Norwich and worked with young people back in their schools to develop the pieces. Through every short film, each child was able to present their own individual take on life.
Stories included eight year old Hannah from Edward Worlledge, who talked about her school, parents, cats and sense of humour.
In addition, twin brothers James and Nathan talked about the bullying they received at school because of coming from a travelling family.
"We want people to know that we are human beings too and then people would stop bullying us," said the brothers.
James and Nathan tell their story
James and Nathan's film talks about how they often get into fights because of name-calling and how they have had to take up boxing in order to stand up for themselves.
"We would like to play with children without fighting with them," added the brothers.
Making a difference
"I hope the films will make a difference," said Rupert Samuels, ICT teacher at Long Stratton High School.
"Some of the young people, like James and Nathan, had been bullied. Giving them a platform like this to have their films shown on a TV screen gives them value in the eyes of others.
"It also gives young people a voice that they may not have otherwise had. I hope that seeing their name in lights, so to speak, makes them feel special," he added.
Rita Adair feels that recording the young people's experiences will prove beneficial.
"Using film is an excellent way of getting across key messages. In my anti-bullying role, I have been keen to promote all forms of performance and creative arts, as these are often more attractive to young people and therefore reach a wider audience," said Rita Adair.
"It was really exciting to involve a range of schools. The films will become a superb resource for us to show the views of bullying from young people's eyes in Norfolk and we hope to use them at conferences and training sessions for school staff," she added.
People should all be treated the same
"Our school is a Complex Learning Needs school. All the pupils really enjoyed their days on the topic and were so pleased to see their finished DVD. They discussed what they thought about bullying and we also filmed their likes and dislikes," said Lesley Forder, Teaching Assistant at Fred Nicholson School.
"We are hoping it will raise our pupil's awareness of bullying by seeing their peers point of view and we will be showing the film at frequent intervals throughout the week on our big screen TV in school," she added.
The 'This is Me' film shorts will feature on the BBC Big Screen outside Chapelfield Shopping Centre in Norwich during Anti-Bullying week.
last updated: 18/11/2008 at 17:09
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