An estimated 13 million children across America are victims of being teased, taunted and physically assaulted by their peers, making bullying a true epidemic. In efforts to mitigate this very real and terrifying issue that many kids deal with on a daily basis, the month of October has been named Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Many organizations across the nation are uniting to help put an end to this issue and it all starts with the simple act of educating the public and helping kids speak up about their hardships. Through Cope Boys & Girls Club’s Bully Out Program, many Club Members are receiving the education and positive reinforcement that they need to help end bullying.
An antsy, excited, little hand shoots straight into the air, inching for maximum height until it is finally called on. “At my house, we have a golden rule. And it is to treat others as you want to be treated,” states an eleven-year-old at Cope Boys & Girls Club. Despite this being an excellent golden rule, this Club Member, along with seven others, has landed herself a spot in the Bully Out Program due to previous acts of aggression within the Club.
Dealing with bullying is a common hardship faced by many of the kids attending Boys & Girls Clubs who are growing up in poverty-stricken neighborhoods where there is a strong presence of crime. Luckily, Julius Flores, the Cope Branch Manager, not only understands but also empathizes with this as he experienced the same as a kid.
“We all have scars and stories to tell,” said Julius. “When you end up in the Bully Out program, you inevitably have a story to tell.”
Five years ago, Julius and one of the Club Members, Moises, realized there was a need to help educate Club Members about the repercussions of bullying. While varying levels of aggression can be found in schools, neighborhoods, families and sometimes in the Clubs, often times kids lack the proper guidance to know how to respond appropriately. Moises decided it was time to fix this issue and came up with the idea of running an anti-bullying program called Bully Out.
Over the course of five years, the Bully Out Program has become a huge success gaining notoriety on Cartoon Networks nation-wide Speak Up Against Bullying campaign. The program is now lead by Cope Club Member Jabari who has refined his teaching skills to include hands-on and visual learning activities. Jabari’s students prove to respond positively to his teachings as they are constantly eager to participate. The ability to engrain real-life lessons of the repercussions of aggression and bullying into these kids’ minds is what Jabari loves most about leading this program.
“When you see kids absorb the information and make positive changes in their lives, that is what I love most,” said Jabari.
The Bully-Out Program operates on a positive reinforcement system in which Club Members have a huge incentive to participate. Once a Club Member’s name gets put on the Bully Out List for showing signs of aggression (verbally or physically), they cannot participate in extracurricular activities, such as attending any professional athletic sporting events when tickets have been donated to the Club, until they have attended four sessions of the Bully Out Program. While attending these sessions, the kids learn about the negative impacts of the different kinds of bullying (social, cyber, direct, indirect and physical bullying). They also learn how to react to bullying if they are the victim. By the end of the fourth session, they leave with a greater awareness of the repercussions of their actions and the knowledge that they will always have an outlet to a safe source of help, if and when they need it.
With the current success that the Bully Out Program is having, Julius has high hopes of gaining future support to continue to grow impact of this program and expand it across Denver!
Are you interested in joining the movement to end bullying? Help The Bully Project put an end to bullying and take the pledge to join the movement!
Also, visit the BGCMD YouTube page to see Moises speak about the Bully Out program on Cartoon Network.