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Bullying prevention game gone a bit too far

Many of us know how hard middle school was considering how easy it was to be made fun of during those “awkward stages.” Mainly, we just wanted to fit in and make friends so we would not have to worry about being bullied.

At Marinette Middle School in Marinette, Wis., teachers had a different approach to helping kids get along and stop bullying — though it might not have been the best idea.

Teachers at Marinette decided to have their students play a game called “Cross the Line.” The game was quite simple. A teacher would ask students a question, and if the students said yes they would have to take a step forward, and if they said no they would just stay in their same spot. However, the questions being asked were extremely personal such as “Have you ever thought about cutting yourself?” or “Do your parents drink?”

Parents were outraged by this and did not think it was fair that their children had to answer such personal questions. Parent Lori Saunier said in a statement to Fox 11, “This kind of stuff, I mean, this can’t happen again. These are our little kids. We’re parents. We should’ve been protecting them. You should’ve given us the benefit of the doubt of contacting us.”

Parent Janet Sadowski told NBC 26, “Those are questions that no child should have to answer.”

Obviously, the parents were not thrilled that their children were forced to answer such personal questions as these. But, the principal of the school claimed that the students were not required to participate in the activity and could have said no.

Another mother claimed that when the parents met with the superintendent and principal to talk about the game, they said that the students were lying and planned it all out. They explained that if they weren’t lying, then they were just misperceptions and that the questions weren’t specifically put as “Do you parents do drugs?”

Sarah Maitland, one of the students who played the game, explained, “She asked if you ever wanted to commit suicide to step forward and then after that she asked if you ever experienced or wanted to cut, to step forward.”

School administrators sent out a letter to all the parents explaining why they had the students play the game. It was mainly to build strong and respectful relationships among the students. Parents are still not happy with this letter and want more information as to why their children were told to play a game such as this one.

I agree with the parents and I know if I were one I would not want my children revealing personal information from home to all of their classmates. If anything, it just gives the other students more of a reason to bully their children.

I do understand why the school administrators did believe this game would work. They were probably thinking it would help the other students see what other lifestyles at home are like and why bullying is not OK since they do not know what the other kids could be going through. The teachers’ intentions were good.

Unfortunately, kids can be mean and take all the troubles with their lives at home and use them at their advantage to make fun of those particular children. A better exercise would have been to give examples of what students could be going through at home but not to point out any of them specifically. Maybe the student teachers from ISU can even take this into consideration when lesson planning.

Even though we are not middle school students but rather in college and hopefully more mature, we can take this story to not bully or make fun of others because we may not know what everyone is going through at home or in their personal lives. It is not our business nor is it fair to judge our classmates and those around us.

Christina Danno is a senior philosophy and English studies major as well as a columnist and copy editor for The Vidette. Questions or comments about her column can be sent to cmdanno@ilstu.edu

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