Flint Youth Theatre Partners with MI-YVPC to Talk about Bullying

Alison Grodzinski Blog Posts 13 Comments

By: Corine Rosenberg, UM UROP Student

The Hundred Dresses by Mary Hall Surface is a play based on the Newbery Honor Book by Eleanor Estes and is the Flint Youth Theatre’s second production in their 2012-2013 series. The play follows Maddie,  a young girl who finds herself a bystander to bullying, watching her “popular” group of friends tease another girl. The play follows Maddie as she changes her attitude and eventually  becomes an advocate for those that are bullied, standing up for the other girl and making an unlikely friend in the process.

The Flint Youth Theatre produced this play and partnered with the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center to lead discussions about bullying and its effects.  Two talkback sessions were held after the performances where YES staff joined select cast members to answer questions on the show, bullying, and the research being done with the MI-YVPC.

Bullying is a major public health problem, particularly among school-aged children, and has been for years.  The Hundred Dresses, written in the 1940s and set in 1938, gives some perspective to this timeless struggle. Bullying is now becoming an increasingly greater issue in our digital age, where the Internet and cellphones have given birth to a generation of cyber bullying.

While new technology has many benefits, it also has its drawbacks. Facebook, chat rooms, and other websites have been designed to increase communication with friends and family and to open doors to meeting new people. It has become easier than ever for people to find others with shared interests, as obscure as they may be, and websites like eHarmony have had phenomenal success. However, this easy access pathway to such a large part of the world around us also can lead to an invasion of privacy, and sometimes, bullying and sexual harassment.

Cyberbullying has seen such high levels for a few reasons:

  • The Internet provides a means for anonymous interactions, and when people feel protected behind their gadgets, people can get mean.
  • The low risk of getting caught increases a person’s likelihood to be aggressive.
  • Additionally, with cyberbullying, one can harass others at any time of night or day from whatever location and through many forms of communication- i.e. email, text, Facebook.

While the levels of cyberbullying remain below those of traditional bullying, which happens for the most part in school, cyberbullying is still a very real and painful problem. Many people find themselves more scared about internet bullying than the more common school bullying. The effects of cyberbullying tend to be the same as those for youth who are bullied in person including drop in grades, low self-esteems, and depression.

Bullying in all forms is detrimental to both the health of individuals and the strength of a community. The Hundred Dresses and the program designed by the Flint Youth Theater and MI-YVPC is one phenomenal way the community is raising awareness and trying to stop bullying- both face-to-face and through technology.

A study guide was written by YES research assistant Colette McAfee to go along with the play and can also be implemented in school settings.

For more about the Flint Youth Theatre and their other upcoming productions visit them online at http://www.thefim.org/fyt-homepage


Comments 13

  1. I hate not being on the side of the victim, but with invasion of privacy and the sort, I feel like the victim needs to take some responsibility, as does everyone on the Internet. No one should be posting personal information and/or posting pictures that will lead them to be a target for sexual harassment. I’m not saying that it’s their fault or it was their intent, but if someone is posting a picture of themselves in nothing but undergarments or if they’re flashing their chest in a random online chat room, they are putting themselves in a higher risk. Parents need to be aware of what their children are posting, not only to regulate them but also when things go sideways, there is a support system in place to prevent the child of becoming a victim. If the world was nice and dandy, then fine, there’s the person’s freedom of speech and they can post whatever they want, but the world isn’t that perfect and people need to take some precautions. I am not saying anyone is ever asking to be a target, but they should take some measures to lower their risks. Anyone can be a target; the best people can do is reduce their chances. The online world can be a fun and interesting place. People just have to remember the fact that they can’t believe everything on it and they need to be aware of potential threats.

    If anything, people need to be less attached to certain technologies. They can change their e-mails, they can change their numbers, and they can get rid of Facebook. This goes back to having a better support system; their parents and close friends need to be there to physically and mentally support them so they don’t become too attached to other things. This goes to real-life bullying as well. If more people are able to stand up for one another and make friends that way, there will be less people being victimized. Also, coming home to an environment where they feel supported and understood will help with how they process their circumstances and be able to rise above it.

    Bullies target those who seem weaker than them. If every child can be empowered, then essentially bullying will reduce to almost being nonexistent. Parents, mentors, or whoever, need to show that they are understanding and trustworthy for victims of bullying to approach them. Bullying is apparent but it doesn’t have to be the norm and that “all kids go through it at some point in their life” type of thing.

  2. Cyberbullying is such a huge deal because it can be anonymous and anybody can say anything to anyone without the consequences of saying it to somebody’s face. Also the internet allows for bullying to become public. Once the message is public (like on facebook or a chatroom) it allows for other people to jump in and gang up on the victim. Hateful words can lead to low self-esteem and that victim might not want to go to school the next day because what was said on facebook the night before.
    I think it is easier to type hateful words than to say them. I think this is because you are not actually hearing them aloud. However, typed words can be taken in different ways. For example, if someone types something to somebody online but thinks they are giving advice in a truthful manner, but the victim reads them in a way that in their head is more hateful, they can be taken the wrong way.
    As kids, they do not understand the long-term affects of bullying. This is why schools should teach it at a young age and possibly give anti-bullying assemblies. Kids are influenced a great deal at school so as teachers they should install the negative affects of bullying and the positive affects of being kind in the students.
    i believe cyber-bullying is becoming more popular in this time because the internet is so much easier to access now. I know in my 20’s i still see online- bullying. people think it is funny to point out somebodys flaws or mistakes but do not understand that that in itself is a flaw.

  3. Cyber-bulling, and bullying in schools is an area of concern for parents, schools, and communities (including police officers). The issue of cyber-bulling is creating problems for young teens and even adults. Implementing programs/ plays that advocate against bulling in all forms- in schools and outside of school is necessary. I think another way to diminish the acts of cyber-bullying is to create laws which protect individuals who are victims of cyber-bullying. As mentioned in the article, cyber-bullying individuals are more willing to use extremely aggressive, threatening language and not care about the repercussions of cyber-bullying because it is done anonymously online. If the act of cyber-bullying is not regulated, cyber-bullying individuals are immune from hurting their targets. Currently, teens are hurting themselves and dying because of the hurtful, threatening words of bullies. Everyone can relate to some form of bullying, either being the aggressor or the attacked, so it is an issue that everyone can support and help reduce. Recently, a case of bullying via facebook has been presented to the courts in California. A young teenager was physically assaulted and photographs of the assault were spread around her school campus and information about the attack was placed online. The unintelligent, young teenage boys that committed the crime posted the information themselves. This shows that 1) teens are extremely stupid (but we already know that) and 2) they provided the necessary evidence for police officers to arrest and charge them. For some strange reason, teens think that posting their crimes online will not affect them in “real life.” Teens must realize that what they do online can be used to prosecute them in court. I think that the play about cyber-bullying aimed at educating young teens will promote anti-bullying in schools and the communities they reside in. Too many young teens have died or have become traumatized by the many forms of bullying, and it must stop now.

  4. Cyber bullying has become a huge problem in our nation. Young individuals are being tormented, threatened, harassed, and/or embarrassed by peers using the Internet or other technologies means, like cell phones. The psychological and emotional outcomes of cyber bullying are similar to those of real-life bullying. Cyber bullying has no end; there is no escape because sometimes there is no way to identify the individual behind these technological means. Although new technology has many benefits, it also has its drawbacks. Bullying and sexual harassment is truly something painful that occurs often; we have to take into consideration what an issue it has become. I think the play concept is wonderful because it raises awareness to all individuals. The message is clear and strong; we must stand up for those who are being bullied and who are afraid to stand up for themselves before it is too late. Only because bullying happens to one certain individual, we are still all affected by it.

  5. I feel this is a great idea. Cyber bullying has taken on a very dark role in teenagers lives because people are able to do it in the comfort of their own home and it seems to be tolerated by todays youth. Someone I knew committed suicide because of cyber bullying and it caught our community off guard and I want prevention and awareness on the topic. This seems like a great way to do it.

  6. It is great that they are bringing awareness to the youth about bullying and how you do have the choice of whether you are going to be apart of the group of bullies or stand up for the one being bullied like in the case of this play. If more people took a stance against bullying then the amount bullies would eventually become smaller and smaller. Now that the internet has involved and cyber bullying has become an issue, it is even more important to make people aware of the detrimental affects caused by bullying. It only takes one mean comment to be considered bullying. This plays into treating people how you would like to be treated and to respect others as you would expect respect from them as well.

  7. I like the adaptation of bullying talks into a theatrical play. I also believe that given today’s availability of the internet to all age-groups, addressing cyber-bullying was critical for the group. Not having been the target of bullying during my up-bringing, I don’t know the extent to which someone becomes stunted and scarred from such an experience, but I can tell from current events, that it pushes people on occasion to commit suicide, cause mass shootings, and create an unstable individual. For today’s youths’ sake, creating a dialogue as they have done is imperative, which I feel was well done by having a hypothetical scenario in the play, then following it with serious discussion. Perhaps, with enough attention, new generations will lessen the extent to which we all cyber-bully through creating new social stigmas, however unlikely given the anonymity the internet provides.

  8. This whole cyber bullying thing has gotten out of hand. Its hard enough for victims to have to deal with people face to face at a school or park, but now they can’t even get away from it at home. To some people it may be an even bigger deal when it is online, on a social networking site, because the amount of people who see it can be much larger than just the people someone goes to school with. Along with cell phones, people can be harassed with mean texts or phone calls as well. I think every institution needs to take responsibility for this: schools, parents and law enforcement. Parents need to monitor what their kids do online and on their phones, and schools need to take the proper precautions to make sure kids do not get bullied on school grounds. Law Enforcement needs to punish kids (mostly scare, because they are for the most part kids) so that they stop these deviant acts. The victim also needs to speak up if something is bothering them. Time and time again we see that nothing is done and people commit suicide, people weep for them and the bully has nothing done to them. We all need to do our part to help others.

  9. Bullying has been around since probably the dawn of men. Kids especially will always pick on each other. While bullying in school goes on everyday, now it is online too. While bullying has been around forever and will never fully go away, people want to know what to do about it. I think it is human nature to poke fun at people that are different, as we get older we just learn to say it in our heads rather than the other person. Kids obviously have less of a filter and can be very hurtful to others. While parents, guardians, or teachers can teach kids to be nice to others, it will not always work. What else needs to be done is to teach kids who are bullied that they have self worth, that no matter what anyone says they are special, that in reality you will get picked on in life. Bullying does not end in school, it occurs in higher education, the work place, or any other social arena. Kids are more touchy so it is a bigger issue, but kids with who are comfortable with themselves and have self worth will do better when they do receive criticism. This in turn will make them more confident adults as well. Kids who receive positive reinforcement, probably handle criticism better. We can always focus on the negatives, but if we focus on saying something positive and being realistic with kids, when bullying does occur, the victim will hold their head higher and the bully will not get the reaction they want.

  10. I feel like people who are strong enough to help stop bullying are the best kinds of people to have around. Bullying has always been in our society. It has just spread like a deadly disease through technology. What I don’t understand about bully’s is that they’re people too? They’ve been known to be hurt sometime in their lives. Instead of banding together they hurt other people. I feel like people need to exercise positive energy and this world will be a better place.

  11. I really like the point that was made saying, “When people feel protected behing their gadget they can get mean”. I never thought of that and fell like that is a 100% true. This is a great play because in our day and age not many people will stand up for the bullied. I have been bullied and I know what it feels like. Why do we live in a society where bullying exists? The advancement in society is great but has its draw backs. Bullying will always be around and these advancements only give bullying more room to advance.