Somebody’s Hero was designed with current research in mind on how best to address bullying in schools. Within the scope of that research we asked ourselves what we can best accomplish in a one hour program.
We all know the common image that comes to mind when we think ‘bully’: A big strong kid picking on a weakling, with other kids watching all around. Clearly the ‘bully’ should be punished and the ‘victim’ saved. Problem solved – right?
Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. What we’ve learned in our research is that the root of the problem is really the students who watch. (1)
If students are willing to watch bullying, then the bullying becomes something like a macabre theater. The bully and target are just roles that any student could play. As long as you have a group of students who are willing and even interested in watching bullying, then any aggressing student will be rewarded so bullying will remain. (2)
This is why we address our program to the bystander. If we can empower students to act against bullying, then the cruel theater ends. Those who would once watch and even yell “quick the teacher is coming” can become those who would intervene on behalf of their peers.
Research shows that more than 50% of the time, if a bystander simply tells an aggressing student to stop, they will. (3) If you have multiple students who are willing to act, bullying behaviors will start to disappear.
We’ve designed our program to change student culture through education. We teach students to recognize and respond to bullying behavior, using positive, entertaining, live, interactive examples! Somebody’s Hero Improv is a show that inspires and trains bystanders to intervene.
(1) Twemlow, Sacco. Why School Antibullying Programs Don’t Work. 2008. Chapter 1: Myths, fallacies, and truths about school violence prevention.
(2) Jim Wright. Preventing Classroom Bullying: What Teachers Can Do. 2003. Interventioncentral.org
(3) Craig, W. M., Pepler, D., & Atlas, R. (2000). Observations of bullying in the playground and in the classroom. School Psychology International, 21, 22–36.