Bullying | Page 7 | Not in Our Town


        "By the end of the year, the whole school was really pumped. One of the social workers in the school asked every club to take a section of the school and make it their anti-bullying zone. So the football team right away took the locker room, and the spirit club took the hallways, and so on." Gail Price, Orange High School teacher Last year, our filmmakers documented anti-bullying efforts in Gail Price's classroom in the short film, "Students Map Bully Zones to Create a Safer School." Price is a Facing History teacher at Orange High School in Pepper Pike, OH. 
Hazing: any action, taken or situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule, risks emotional or physical harm, to members of an organization or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person's willingness to participate.   The Alpha Theta Phi sorority at the University of Redlands is breaking new ground.  In October, the students held a Not On Our Campus week to bring awareness to hazing, pledging to stop the hurtful—and sometimes fatal—practice on university campuses.    Earlier in the year, university and sorority alumnna Lauri Massari stepped forward to conduct an anti-hazing training, as a service to the Office of Student Life. But she took it one step further, offering a $500 scholarship to conduct a Not On Our Campus week of activities, the first of its kind at the  university.   "This has not been an easy task for these young women because fraternity and sorority traditions at the University of Redlands are 100 years in the making and do not readily embrace the changes required in eliminating hazing," Massari said.
For many high school students, maintaining  an identity at an age when all you want to do is to fit in can be challenging. But what happens when conforming is not an option, and "being yourself" sets you dangerously far apart from everybody else?  Out in the Silence chronicles the journey of filmmaker Joe Wilson, who is drawn back to his conservative hometown of Oil City, PA,  by the plea of a worried parent.  After announcing his engagement to a man in the local newspaper, Wilson experiences a backlash of hate mail and angry reader comments. What he did not expect was a letter written by a desperate mother, describing the heartbreaking torments that her 16-year-old son is subjected to at school on a daily basis--begging Wilson for help.  The hour-long documentary follows Wilson as he meets C.J., a passionate basketball player and former jock whose life turned upside down after other students discover he is gay. 
Not In Our School Director Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas was recently featured in an article on the EdBlog, where she discusses the NIOS model for creating inclusive environments at schools and putting an end to bullying.  Dr. Cohn-Vargas, along with 10,000 other educators, will be attending the 2012 Celebration of Teaching & Learning in New York City on March 16. Not In Our Town will be leading a Featured Speakers session where we will discuss the NIOT/NIOS films, as well as tools to stop bullying in your school. To learn more about the conference and to register for this inspiring education experience, click here. Not in Our School: New Tools to Create Inclusive Environments and Stop Bullying in Your School By Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas
"Our students have become activists, often times they don't have to tell on anyone for bullying, they just handle it themselves, they intervene themselves. You'll walk around this campus and you'll hear kids saying, 'Hey, not in our school.' It's our theme and they live it." —Lauri Massari, Del Sur Middle School counselor  Watch "Lauri Massari: How We Started Not In Our School" Learn how one middle school counselor created an anti-bullying program at her school and spread it to the entire community. This is a DVD extra from the PBS program, Not In Our Town: Class Actions. For more information on the film, visit niot.org/ClassActions.
Talk About It. Your reactions to Not In Our Town: Class Actions.
On the edge of the Mojave Desert in California, educators, political leaders, and students face the dangers of bullying after teen suicides devastate two nearby towns. A local middle school counselor initiates an anti-bullying program throughout the district and students take the lead in standing up to hate in their community. This story is part of the Not In Our Town program, Class Actions, that premieres nationwide on PBS stations in February 2012. What began as one educator’s effort to create a safer environment for her middle school campus blossomed into a citywide movement. “We had two suicides that happened within 50 miles of our school and our town,” Del Sur School counselor Lauri Massasri says in Class Actions. “When something like this happens so close to your own community it's a wake-up call and you realize that this could happen to any one of us and we've got to do something a little bit more because apparently what we were doing isn’t working isn’t enough.”
In the early hours of a February morning in 2008,  Daoud Abudiab woke up to a call by the local fire department. The Muslim community leader was notified that there had been an attack on the Islamic Center of Columbia, the home of the Muslim community in Columbia, Tenn. The very mosque that he directed was defaced with racial slurs and burned to the ground. For Abudiab, his family, and the Columbia community, the attack was a reminder of how hate can devastate a community; but also, a lesson that strength and unity can overcome tragedy. Nearly four years later, his daughter reflects on the hate that she and her community experienced that day. This user-generated video is part of Nashville Public Television's award-winning Next Door Neighbors series, which views the Tennessee city through the lens of its newest residents. 
Working closely alongside Facing History and Ourselves, Not in Our School spent the past year documenting student efforts to address issues of concern in their schools. From posting positive messages on Facebook to taking on a social action project or simply speaking out against bullying, students across the nation have taken a step towards tolerance and acceptance with the guidance of their teachers. Thanks to support from the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, we produced five short films with accompanying Facing History lesson guides that address issues such as cyberbullying--and highlight peer-to-peer solutions. To view the films and the accompanying lesson guides, follow the links below: Students Take On Cyberbullying A Facebook campaign to spread positive messages, invented to counter cyberbullying by Watchung, N.J. students. Stand Up, Stand Out: No Checking, No Capping, No Bullying