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11/30/2017 - Educating About the Dangers of Social Ostracism and Cyber Bullying at Negba’s “Bogrim” Program

Abuse can rear its ugly head in many forms. That was the message conveyed to youth at Negba’s “Bogrim” Jerusalem Pre-Teen Middle School Transition program at a recent seminar on violence. The foremost association with abuse is physical harm. But it can also be verbal, or written, such as on social media. Sometimes it appears as nothing at all, such as when a group of kids decide to completely ignore one of their peers.

“When I started at a new school in third grade, I didn’t know anyone. Nobody spoke to me for weeks,” recalled Moriah, 13, a member of Negba’s Bogrim program. “I was never included in anything or invited anywhere. It was terrible.”

Many youths are simply unaware that their “normal” behavior is harmful. “I saw that some of the kids in the program speak aggressively to one another,” said Sharon Shalom, Coordinator of the Grade 7 Bogrim program track. “They would do things lightheartedly, and write things in our What’sApp group thinking it was just a joke. But it wasn’t. The topic of abuse really needed to be addressed.”

To do so, she and colleague Lavie Oren, Coordinator of the Grade 6 Bogrim Track, ran a seminar about violence. It began with the viewing of a trigger film, Kids without Mercy, produced by Israeli teens based on a true story of a youth who committed suicide as a result of social ostracism and cyber bullying. At first the Bogrim participants weren’t convinced such a scenario could truly occur. Then they viewed a clip from an Israel news channel reporting on the real incident, which left them in shock. It led to an open discussion about their conduct, and it sensitized them to how they might be engaging in violent behavior.

“Just today something happened to me at school. A group of kids ganged up on me,” said Moriah. “Abuse exists in our everyday lives, and we need to be able to recognize it and cut it out.”

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