In a scenario, four guys have been sitting at the same lunch table throughout high school. One day, someone comes up to sit and one of the guys tells the visitor he can’t sit with them. Another guy spoke up and said, “Get out of here, loser.”
He just wanted a place to sit, Chris Martin, a twenty-something co-founder of Reaction Cards, a company started to bring back conversation by creating a unique way to open up. Martin is a graduate of Logansport High School.
Martin spoke Friday on the issue of bullying at Lincoln Middle School and then Columbia Middle School.
Different scenarios were given to the students of Lincoln Middle School Friday morning and they were asked to decide which scenario was bullying and which was an example of someone horsing around. After all of the scenarios were given, student Alyssa Tincher said friendship was the difference between the two.
Cyber bullying and rumors were another type of bullying brought up during the convocation.
”Once you post it, it is forever in the system,” Martin said. “Because of the new bullying law in Indiana, law enforcement has the right to have you punished.”
The Indiana Code, Martin is referring to, requires schools to provide information about bullying to students, staff and parents. Bullying, according to IC 20-33-8-0.2, is unwanted, repeated acts or gestures or any other behaviors committed by a student or group of students with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate or harm the target and create a hostile school environment.
Martin told the students he had trouble throughout middle and high school with bullying. Due to those experiences, Martin was able to help create the questions found in Teen Reaction, a presentation based on the thought-provoking cards created by Reaction Cards. The company has produced 22 decks of cards on a range of topics.
”The proper reaction is to go up to the person who was bullied and say you don’t agree with the bully and you will be there for the person,” Martin said. “For every one bully there are 20 people who care and do not bully.”
Martin said if the students wouldn’t want to go up to the person being bullied, they should tell a staff member. Since being bullied, Martin has gone on to become co-founder of his own business.
”It goes to show bullying doesn’t have to stop you from doing what you want to do,” Martin said. “Bullies can bend you, but they cannot break you. Let those 20 people be your support system.”
Jeff Canady, principal at Lincoln Middle School, said the bullying convocation helps emphasize what the school is already doing.
Teachers at Lincoln Middle School thought the bullying program was effective. Special Education teacher Stephanie Crawford said middle school children seem to have a misconception of what bullying is.
”They think it’s more physical or fighting,” Crawford said. “They don’t realize it’s also emotional.”
Another teacher, Carla Alford, agreed and said the presentation was effective because Martin used his own experience.
”It’s hard to learn from people who have never had that experience,” Alford said.
Martin said his goal is to assist schools in recognizing and acting on bullying. It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students, according to the National Education Association.
Teen Reaction has been presented at several local schools and will continue be presented in Indiana until May 2014.
Schools interested in having the convocation presented can reach Martin at 765-398-2255 or firstname.lastname@example.org. People can visit http://parentalreaction.com/ to find out more.
Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or email@example.com. Follow her: @PharosAES.