Bullying: One Excelsior staff combats the problem with theater

She’s Not My Friend: A Story of Denial and Bullying – by: James Murphy Friday, August 1, 2014 @ 1:15pm in the Excelsior Youth Center Auditorium

Coming up this Friday, Excelsior will put on a play highlighting how bullying affects young girls today. Written by Excelsior’s James Murphy (assistant teacher, choir director and basketball coach), this play follows two best friends as they enter high school. These two young girls have heard horror stories about bullying, but promise to support each other no matter what. However, within their first few weeks of high school, one of the girls is befriended by some popular girls who ruthlessly torment her best friend. Afraid to lose her new popular status, the girl does nothing to stop them. The story goes on to illustrate the dynamics of group bullying and its repercussions. After some unexpected twists, Mr. Murphy leaves us with an uplifting message – people can change their thinking to change their behavior; forgive, and be forgiven.

Inspiration behind the play

Mr. Murphy wrote this play primarily to expose Excelsior girls to both sides of bullying – he wants our girls to see themselves in the mirror and witness the harm they can cause by their actions. After years of working in schools, both public and private, he has seen too much bullying. He has watched young people change themselves completely to be “cool” and has watched others crumble under the weight of harsh words. What bothers Mr. Murphy the most is seeing bystanders watch bullying and do nothing about it. Victims of bullying need as much help as possible; it is too common for victims to believe their only option is to take their own life – for youth ages 10-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. It is devastating to think that bullying can lead someone to take this drastic action.

Bullying and Girls

After observing both girls and boys bullying, Mr. Murphy notes the differences between  genders: girls tend to bully with verbal abuse and alienation, while boys tend to bully with violence. In Mr. Murphy’s opinion, “girls take it to a whole new level” by strategically plotting to tarnish someone’s reputation. While boys attack a person’s body, girls attack a person’s character.

Advice about Bullying from Mr. Murphy

A few words of advice from Mr. Murphy: to victims – please, tell someone. You cannot overcome bullying by yourself; you need help from someone who can address the problem. To bullies – please, put yourself in the other person’s position. Developing empathy can change the way you think and behave. For schools, Mr. Murphy highly recommends a zero tolerance policy for bullying. Quick, consistent action and strict consequences for perpetrators may deter students from engaging in bullying.

 

Look for our follow-up post, this Thursday, July 31, about Excelsior’s Bullying Prevention initiatives, including tips for parents, youth, and schools affected by bullying.

 

 

 

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