Researchers Create Web Toolkit to Combat Bullying

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - University of Iowa researchers teamed up with a theatre group to create a new web toolkit to combat bullying.

A play called “Out of Bounds” started a couple of years ago, but the play, by Working Group Theatre, was just the first act.

Now, the team is introducing a new arts-related web toolkit to continue providing resources to teachers to combat bullying issues.

Corinne Peek-Asa, the Director of the University Injury Prevention Research Center, calls it HEAR, which stands for Helping Educations Use Art to Reduce Bullying.

"There are specific activities on cyber bullying that address social media communications, specifically, but it also addresses bystander activity, building friendships, how to understand what's good about being the same [and] what's good about being different,” Peek-Asa said.

The toolkit is filled with all kinds of writing, acting and artistic activities for students in Kindergarten through 12th grades. University of Iowa students, like Emily Weno, helped by testing the activities in Iowa classrooms. One activity called 'complete the scene' has students learn problem-solving by acting out the ending of a bullying situation.

"I think it, for them, helped them to think about ways that if they were in that situation, or when they are in that situation, that they will be able to deal with that,” Weno said.

Researchers said they wanted to create this because classroom-based programs on bullying, those taught the same as math or science for instance, aren't working very well.

"We feel that will resonate with the active emotional centers of teenage brains. We want them to really focus on bullying, which is an emotional experience, and turn the communication toward a more positive interaction rather than bullying, which we know is very damaging,” Peek-Asa said.

"I think that this research is really exciting, and it's a neat take on anti-bullying and looking at it from a different direction instead of just in a classroom - a teacher telling you ‘bullying is bad’,” Weno said.

Researchers believe these simple activities will make a difference down the line. They said by cutting down bullying issues now, that could reduce family and dating violence problems later in life.

The group wants teachers across the country to use the free online
toolkit.