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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Don’t Be a Monster: Assembly encourages kids to stand up to bullying

Oct 31, 2017 12:45PM ● By City Journals Staff

Presenters and students pose with Frank after Don’t Be a Monster assembly at Wasatch Jr. High. (Photo courtesy Granite School District)

By Jennifer Gardiner| [email protected]    

During the time of year when many kids are participating in the scary joys of haunted houses, a traveling anti-bullying program brings the monsters right to their school.  

“Don’t be a monster” is a message sixth- and seventh-graders received during an annual anti-bullying awareness assembly held in October at Wasatch Jr. High. The campaign focuses on “Frank,” who is made fun of and bullied in school. 

Shauna Nordgren, assistant principal at Wasatch Jr. High, says Frank is usually scary, but he has feelings making him relatable to the kids.

“We like to have a anti-bullying presentation every year for the youngest grades and this presentation fits really well with their age. They learn about Frank through the short videos and gain compassion for him,” Nordgren said. “And then at the end they get to meet the real-life Frank and they wait in line to meet him to give him a high-five or get their picture taken with him. They still have the belief that he could be real. They can relate to his struggle of fitting in at school.”

Nordgren said this presentation has helped in certain situations where bullying is present.  

 “When I bring up Frank and how he stood up to the bullies, it’s a quick reminder to students they seem to understand,” Nordgren said. “(The presentation) pointed out ways to be an upstander when kids see something they should say something. We want to really work on that.”

Nordgren said in the past assemblies they had an artist draw out scenes that depicted the bully and how the problem was solved.  

“This year the artist retired and the presentation was taught more through a PowerPoint with questions and answers and the use of Frank,” Nordgren said. “At the end of the presentation the kids receive a wristband that hopefully serves as a reminder of what students learned from the presentation.”

The band includes the National Suicide Prevention lifeline phone number.

The presentation teaches students the connection between the haunted house and the program. Presenters defined what bullying is vs. rude behavior and helped put it into perspective by going over updated bullying statistics.

The program is designed to help students understand where bullying happens, why it happens, the effect it has on others and why students are hesitant to report. They are given advice on how to be an upstander by making new friends, not being involved in spreading rumors, how to offer a distraction if they see an incident in progress and how to respect each others differences. 

You can see some of the presentation on YouTube under Wasatch Jr. High’s account.

Don’t Be a Monster is the largest nonprofit organization that works alongside Haunted Attractions in the United States.

The bullying-prevention assembly is delivered in the months of late September through November, during National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and the Halloween season. Don’t Be a Monster’s program is highly effective: 98.21 percent of schools surveyed post-presentation find the material beneficial and memorable for their students.

Don’t Be a Monster’s mission is simple: work to educate and empower youth to be leaders around diversity and inclusiveness, and show them how to stand up for their friends and peers. They believe in a positive, proactive approach where students leave the presentations equipped to have educated and empathetic discussions with their peers.