Even bystanders have a role to play in ending bullying at school.
That was part of the message five young Girl Scouts took to Lowell Elementary School students Thursday via a series of skits. The skits were part of an anti-bullying campaign the girls created for fourth-grade students at Lowell in northeast Brainerd. But they hope to have an even wider reach through additional presentations and social media.
The Girl Scouts — Sydney Stock, Victoria Vesely, Paige Davis, Elizabeth Aydt and Sarah Lemire — of Cadette Troop 642 based at Forestview Middle School spent 84 hours researching and creating the skits as part of their community service project.
The girls, ages 13 and 14, researched how to best present information to fourth-graders, looking at how to keep the younger students interested and engaged. They even visited with mental health professionals on bullying.
The girls covered different aspects of bullying, including using words intended to hurt others such as calling them “[filtered word].” They also talked about taking a stand by not being a silent bystander in a hallway or a locker room when witnessing a student who is being bullied.
The goal was to give students confidence to stand up and make a difference.
“That’s hard to do in middle school,” said Pam Stock, co-leader for the Girl Scout troop and mother of Sydney. She said the girls wanted their presentation to give the younger students “some tools to have in their backpacks when they made the jump to the big school” of Forestview.
“It went really good,” Sydney said after the presentation. “We were all kind of nervous at first, but it went really good. It was fun.”
The Girl Scouts spoke to about 50 fourth-graders during a 30-minute presentation. Sydney was surprised she was more nervous to speak to the fourth-graders than she has been when acting on the stage at Central Lakes College.
“It’s just really important to me the topic of bullying,” Sydney said, noting she’s experienced name calling and verbal bullying at Forestview. “I see that a lot at Forestview. I just think school would be so much better because I have personal experience and one of my close friends had to go to another school because he was bullied so badly that’s why it’s important.”
Sydney said they wanted the younger students to know how not to be a bully and how to stand up to one. The fourth-graders were engaged by the skits and ready to answer questions at the end.
“Loads of them raised their hands,” Sydney said. “I was just so happy and it kind of surprised me.”
Each of the Girl Scouts presented a different topic from intimidation and peer pressure to bullying words and how they make people feel to the difference between tattling and reporting when they witness bullying.
The Girl Scouts recorded the skits and plan to have the video available on YouTube.
“We all have to try not to be bullies and when we see a bully we have to stand up for the people who are being bullied and support them,” Sydney said, adding that’s the message she hopes the fourth-graders took to heart.
Being a Girl Scout taught her how to be a leader and stick up for others and be responsible for what she says and does, Sydney said.
Pam Stock, who co-leads the troop along with Wendy Davis, was a Girl Scout herself when her mom was the leader. And her mom was a Scout when her grandmother was a troop leader.
She said being a Girl Scout gave her the belief she could change the world.
She said Girl Scouts taught her how to be a leader, how to stand up for the underdog, to really show kindness and compassion for others. She said the message was even during busy lives to reach out and lend a hand to help others and that it is OK to be different.
“I’ve never been afraid to take on a challenge and that’s what I hope I’ve passed on to the girls,” Pam Stock said. “It’s really fun to see them be courageous, strong young women.”
And for students who embrace the anti-bullying message, Pam Stock said the benefits will last a lot longer than the school years.
She said to students: “In a few years you’ll be in a place where you’ll be awfully glad you stood up for that person.”