As part of Anti Bullying Week, we’ll be highlighting some of the activities happening up and down the country and speaking to children, young people and their families about how they’re taking part.
A group of college students from Rotherham College have devised a play about bullying which they are performing to primary school children in their local area.
I spoke to Jack, Cane, Chelsea, Jack, Dom and Greg as they took a break from rehearsals to tell me about their play, “Safe Place.”
“We wanted to raise awareness of the effects of bullying now and in the future,” they tell me.
The play itself tells the story of a young woman, played by Chelsea, who is the victim of bullying. “As a person when you get bullied, you change your individuality and put on a persona. We try and disappear and don’t bring attention to ourselves.” The story of Safe Place shows the consequences of that.
The theme of this year’s Anti Bullying Week is “Choose Respect,” and as well as looking at the impact of bullying, the play seeks to understand what causes someone to bully.
“People themselves might be bullied at home,” explains Dom. “They might not be very confident and taking it out on others. Or using it as a coping mechanism for their insecurities.”
As well as the primary school children they hope to empower, the process of making the play has been very positive for the young actors themselves.
“It’s been fun to work in a group,” Cane tells me. “We use comedy and laughter and it builds confidence like not a lot of things do.”
All are agreed it’s a great self-esteem builder and they can see how the skills they’ve learned through the process can transfer to life off the stage. As rehearsals have progressed the group say they’ve learned to listen and compromise as well as how to deal with misunderstandings.
As Greg explains, “It helps with normal situations too, like interviews or how to speak up for yourself.”
So why is Anti-Bullying Week important and what advice would they give to anyone who is being bulled? Tutor, Denny Smith, feels it’s about reducing worry and stigma.
And the group as a whole feel it’s a great way to raise awareness and to start a conversation, particularly in helping someone speak up for the first time.
In terms of the message they want their primary school audiences to take away, this group of young actors is clear.
“Try not to change yourself. The bullies have to change, not you. Be proud of who you are.”
If you’re affected by bullying and don’t know who to talk to, you can call ChildLine on 0800 1111. They’re available 24 hours a day if you need to speak to someone about how you are feeling, if something’s bothering you or if you need help.