Archive for March, 2010

Can karate classes combat bullying?

By | Let's Get Real, Straightlaced

I’m Sukh, an intern for GroundSpark and a student of public health interested in the issue of school bullying as a public health concern and novel ways of preventing it.

Two weeks ago on KGO News Radio, I heard David Lazarus discussing the topic of bullying with listeners. Some questions that came up include, what makes bullies bullies? What makes victims victims? How can victims defend themselves? Many listeners pointed to self-defense classes as a way not only to build self-esteem, but as a technique for protection in case a bullying incident arose.

Bob Gordon, a member of my cohort in the San Francisco State University MPH program, emailed in and suggested that listeners watch a copy of Let’s Get Real and David Lazarus shared this advice with listeners…Thanks Bob!

So, can karate classes combat bullying? In the field of public health, there is a lot of emphasis on PRIMARY PREVENTION, which is targeting the entire population to prevent a negative outcome (i.e. bullying). While self-defense has its benefits and can be helpful in many ways, I don’t think these classes are the way to prevent bullying. Rather I feel that self-defense is a method of treatment—after the roles of bully and victim have been identified and the relationship between victim and bully has been established.


Methods such as those of GroundSpark’s are ones that are really effective in identifying the root of the problem. GroundSpark films Let’s Get Real and Straightlaced touch on the issue of bias, which takes form in racism, classism, sexism, and various other isms. Creating awareness of diversity and highlighting the need for respect can create an atmosphere of inclusiveness and acceptance. As a result, children can develop healthy relationships with each other that don’t involve bullying in the first place and karate can be valued as an extracurricular activity rather than a necessity.

Greensboro, NC Educators Take Respect for All to the Next Level

By | Latest News

Last year I went to Greensboro, North Carolina to screen Straightlaced, It’s Elementary, It’s Still Elementary, Let’s Get Real, and That’s a Family! for several different groups of educators in the community. As often happens after these events, attendees left very inspired to take the next step in their communities to put these films to work so that the culture can change to create more safe, inclusive, and successful school environments. People who never before thought that they could take steps to pro-actively address homophobic and other kinds of bias change right before our eyes, and become empowered to take action. Take a look at some of the audience’s reaction to the film:

[vPIP class=”hVlogTarget” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” onclick=”vPIPPlay(this, ‘height=240, name=STLPremiere_VideoFootage, flv=true’, ‘bufferlength=5’, ”); return false;”]North Carolina Straightlaced Premiere!

Audience reactions to the Greensboro, NC premiere of
Straightlaced — How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up in 2009.
Join our Straightlaced group on facebook!

So, I am was very excited to learn that last week, educators in Greensboro did indeed take it to the next level. Annette Green, one of the main organizers, sent us this report:

Respect In Our Schools Training a Success!

“Outstanding!” “Awesome!” “Excellent!” “Great!” “Amazing!”

These were words written on evaluations by the Guilford County Schools teachers, counselors, social workers, media specialists and administrators to describe the Respect In Our Schools training they attended on February 27. The six hours spent at Wesley Long Education Center were jam packed with thought provoking presentations, exercises and discussions to help them understand the issues involved with creating safe and welcoming schools, and give them some tools to do it. GSAFE, along with PFLAG and other community groups organized the training, which was largely sponsored by a grant from Guilford Green Foundation. Presenters were volunteers from GSAFE, Equality NC, GCS, Guilford College and the NC Association of Social Workers .

In addition to learning what state law and GCS policy require in terms of protecting LGBT students, training participants viewed films from GroundSpark’s “Respect For All Series” (by filmmaker Debra Chasnoff) and practiced how these could be applied to various grade levels in the schools. They also worked in teams to identify problems and create Action Plans for their schools.

There was tremendous excitement and a sense of empowerment among participants to take what they learned back to their classrooms. Some other comments on evaluations included:

“Thank you for holding this workshop!”

“Great to get a practical, useful tool to use with my students.”

“I do not feel so scared about backing up GCS policy with my administration.”

“Please continue to do more!”