Anti-Bullying 3D Program Unveiled at Texas High School

One of the major themes was cyberbullying, which has become more serious as the use of social media becomes nearly universal among students.

by Kim Burdi, Herald Democrat / November 11, 2015

(TNS) — Bullying continues to be a concern in schools, and Sherman High School has been using 3D, its anti-bullying program, as a way to combat the emotional or physical harm of students. And last week, freshmen and upperclassmen who missed 3D in previous years, had a chance to open up and share their personal stories with classmates as a part of the program.

“We need to make sure that these kids know there are issues here, and we need to stop it,” SHS senior Lake Wilson said. “There’s also the fact that you don’t know what’s going on with a person. Maybe you’re joking around but then they’re going to take it more seriously which can damage them more emotionally and in some extreme instances, physically too.”

Students are split into small groups, called families. Within each family, there are team leaders who are students from the high school. The days start out on a lighter note with activities to break the ice and get to know the people in your group. As the week progresses, the program starts to become more emotional as leaders ask students to dig deeper into their experiences.

“If you have a situation going on at home, that’s when we give them the opportunity to get it off their chest,” SHS junior Gracie Taylor said. “If they’ve had experiences in the past, people tell their story and it helps other kids deal with theirs. It helps to know that they’re not the only one going through something.”

SHS teacher and 3D coordinator Symantha Murray said the stories that students share often involve physical abuse and emotional abuse on many different levels. 3D team leaders and Murray noticed that students often shared stories from when they were younger, something program organizers will take into consideration when they create plans for the younger campuses.

“I think the stories are there for the little kids, but they don’t process it or they don’t realize that it’s not normal,” Murray said. “If that’s all they know, then it’s normal for them. When they get older, they realize it’s not normal to get beaten, or it’s not normal that they get locked in garage.”

One of the major themes for 3D this year was cyberbullying, which has become more serious as the use of social media becomes nearly universal among students. Over the years, the 3D program has focused on verbal bullying and physical bullying, but that type of abuse is no longer as common as abusive posts on Twitter and Facebook, Taylor said.

“In today’s world, we are overrun with technology and social media, so that’s where we were seeing our main problem,” Taylor said. “This year was to really focus on getting the attention toward the bullying that is going on after school with kids online because we tried to teach them that even though you’re hiding behind a screen, it’s still bullying. Even if you’re trying to say that you said this about a person but I didn’t tag them so it doesn’t count, it still matters.”

Another major theme touched upon dating and relationships. Some students, Murray said, don’t realize they may be in unhealthy relationships. For the first time, 3D partnered with the Grayson County Crisis Center to focus on that. A small survey was also passed out to help students determine if they are in an abusive or harmful relationship, she said.

“3D can be misunderstood a lot as because some people say that it’s where kids go to talk about their problems, cry about it for a little bit and it doesn’t do much,” Taylor said. “What they don’t realize is what’s behind-the-scenes of 3D is the messages and thank yous we get from kids who are going through something.”

It’s life-changing to be able to help students overcome their challenges in life, Wilson said. 3D leaders want to make sure students understand there are many options available for help, he said.

“Walking through the hallways, you see smiles on kids faces that you didn’t see before after 3D week,” Taylor said. “The student body gets a little bit closer because they have an understanding of each other’s differences.”

“It’s a huge endeavor mentally, physically and financially,” Murray said, “but our thought process is that if we can save one life, it’s all worthwhile.”

©2015 the Herald Democrat (Sherman, Texas), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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