|Globetrotter urges students to speak out on bullying|
|Published Monday, February 5, 2018|
RALEIGH – More than one in five students reports being bullied, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And those are just the students who report. With the proliferation of online activity, opportunities for bullying are expanding, as well.
But there is plenty that students can do to fight back, and being a victim of bullying doesn’t mean they can’t go on to do great things. That was the message of Harlem Globetrotter Zeus McClurkin at an anti-bullying rally at Stough Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh last week.
“When I was younger, one of the cool – well, not coolest – but the most awkward example I give to the kids just to kind of resonate with them is there was a girl who bullied me in my music class, and she would always throw drumsticks at me trying to get a reaction and trying to get a rise out of me,” McClurkin said at a pre-rally interview. “But I was this happy-go-lucky kid who, every time she would mess with me, I’d have a smile on my face. I’d skip right over to the teacher, the teacher would see her, she’d get caught, and she’d get in trouble. I have to show the kids that it really takes guts, and it really takes bravery to tell on somebody.”
The example ties right into the ABCs of Bullying Prevention that McClurkin shares with the kids and that is part of a program being shared by the Globetrotters around the world.
McClurkin asked students to answer questions about bullying to illustrate the ABCs, which stand for Action, Bravery and Compassion.
His first question was, “What’s the first thing you should do if you see a student being bullied or if you yourself are being bullied?” The answer: Tell a teacher or an adult.
“Now listen, I know sometimes it might be frowned upon or people might look at you as a tattle tale, but actually, kids, telling on a bully is one of the best things you can do,” McClurkin told the group of elementary students. “A lot of times, bullies will never stop bullying people, they’ll never stop being mean to people until they get in trouble for that action.”
He also told students that they could show bravery by walking away from a bully. If bullying occurs online, like on social media, he said they could “walk away” by scrolling past and by not “liking” the post.
“A lot of times that person is just looking for a reaction, but if you don’t give them that, then they’ll never receive it,” he continued.
The last component of the program, compassion, is what you should show people you see being bullied.
“If you see somebody walking around school, they got their head hanging down, it looks like they’re not having a great day, I want you to walk right up to them and say something like, ‘I really like your shoes,’ or ‘Ooh girl, who did your hair? That’s cute!’” You can really make somebody’s day just by making them smile, y’all.”
The rally was held in recognition of fifth-grade teacher Chris Davila for his commitment to preventing bullying at the school. Principal Chris Cox said fifth-grade parent Sasha Boutell Wilkins nominated him, and “She just talked about Mr. Davila as an advocate for students and promoting a culture of respect.”
As a result, Davila was honored with the rally and was introduced by the “Two Men and a Mom” morning crew from Mix 101.5.
“Respect is when a lot of people think that someone does an extraordinary job, and Christopher, we have so much respect for you,” said Bryan Lord, one of the “two men” from the on-air team. “But not only us, but your students have so much respect for you, the staff here has so much respect for you and just everything you do for anti-bullying. So thank you so much, and we hope that you can continue the good fight.”
Davila said he was “honored” by the recognition. “This is awesome. I’m really surprised,” he said.
As part of his commitment to preventing bullying in his class, Davila said he asks students to write something nice about another student each morning on a Post-It note. He also encourages students to pair up at recess and to show respect for each other in other ways throughout the day.
“I think a lot of things that I say in class shows respect for the kids, and that shows what I expect from them,” he said. “Every day, I try to show by my example that we try to treat each other nicely and with respect.”
But he is quick to add, “All the teachers do what I do. We all teach respect; it’s not just me.”
Cox said that bullying is not a major issue at the school, but the staff tries to be “proactive rather than reactive.” For example, in-class sessions on bullying are held at the start of every school year. This year, an extra session was hosted on digital citizenship because of the threat of cyber-bullying.
The recognition from the Harlem Globetrotters is part of a campaign the team takes to every market they play in, which includes 260 cities.
In addition to bullying, McClurkin discussed the history of the Globetrotters and how the team helped to break the race and gender frontier in basketball by bringing the first players of color and women players to the national frontier. He described racism and sexism as types of bullying.
He followed up his presentation by sharing some tricks with the students and staff and, of course, dunking.
“At college, I would get criticized sometimes because people said I smiled too much and I enjoyed myself too much. I had one guy tell me one time, ‘Man, all you do is smile and dunk, smile and dunk,’” he said. “And I did that as an entertainment thing; that’s kind of who I was naturally, and it turns out the Globetrotters paid you to be an entertainer.”
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