Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, September 14, 2018

Cyberbullying program heads to area schools

Chattanooga’s Kids on the Block uses puppetry to educate children about cyberbullying. - Photograph provided

For the past 39 years, Chattanooga’s Kids on the Block has provided educational programs to schools and communities using the KOTB puppets, focusing on awareness and prevention topics.

With cyberbullying on the rise, KOTB continues to educate children through the newly developed program, “Cyberbullying: Safe at School.”

Recent studies show that 16.9 percent of middle and high school students identify as a cyberbullying victim, and 34 percent of students claim to have been bullied online at least once.

Roughly 60 percent of students who claim to have been cyberbullied said it negatively impacted both their feelings of safety and ability to learn. It was recently reported that a second-grade student in Colorado committed suicide due to cyberbullying.

KOTB’s cyberbullying program addresses anger management, positive self-esteem, suicide prevention, body image, eating disorders and effective communication, among other sensitive issues, through puppetry.

KOTB developed “Cyberbullying: Safe at School” in 2017 in cooperation with The Concerned Kids of Toronto, working with educators, parents and children to ensure the program contained age appropriate information and covered the sensitive issue of bullying online.

KOTB surveys indicate that 86 percent of elementary school students said they were more likely to stand up for a student who was being bullied and 75 percent said they were more likely to talk to a grownup if they were being bullied after seeing “Cyberbullying: Safe at School.”

KOTB Executive Director Kelly Williams says “Cyberbullying: Safe at School” has become one of KOTB’s most requested programs.

“We’re listening to the needs of the children and families in our community and providing awareness and prevention education to meet those needs,” Williams says.

KOTB has performed a record number of times in 2018 despite unexpected funding cuts and changes in grant funding requirements, Williams adds.

“We’ve performed 500 educational programs that served over 64,000 children and adults in our area despite severe funding cuts,” Williams says. “We hope to be able to continue the volume of services through continued and new partnerships.”

KOTB is a non-profit organization that offers programs to first, fourth and fifth grade students free of charge in 16 counties in Southeast Tennessee, North Georgia and Alabama. Individual donations, corporate sponsorships, grants and fundraising events make these performances possible.

KOTB puppeteers are trained Bunraku artists holding degrees in various disciplines. Chattanooga’s KOTB is one of the few KOTB troupes licensed to perform all 45 of the national programs available to troupes and have developed five new programs.

Information: www.kidsontheblock.net, 423 757-5259.

Source: KOTB