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Anti-bullying activist brings her survival story and message of compassion to Eastside Catholic schools

   Jodee Blanco

By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications 

Bullying isn’t just the mean things you do; it’s the nice things you don’t do.” – Jodee Blanco, pioneer of the anti-bullying movement. 

Jodee Blanco calls herself a survivor. Bullied throughout her school years, she has moved forward with a life of helping both the perpetrators of bullying and the recipients (she tries not to use the word “victim”). She also helps schools initiate anti-bullying curriculum that focuses on “cultivating compassion.” This week, she’ll be at Scecina Memorial High School to give her presentations to faculty and students. She’ll talk to students at Our Lady of Lourdes, Holy Spirit and Little Flower. The Catholic grade schools on the Eastside of Indianapolis are adopting Ms. Blanco’s anti-bullying curriculum, “It’s Not Just Joking Around.”

On Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., she’ll give an “immersive and interactive” presentation to the community at Our Lady of Lourdes School, 30 S. Downey. She wants parents, students, adults who were bullied as children and anyone interested in the topic to attend on Wednesday evening.

“Most schools approach (bullying) backwards, because they’re trying to define bullying from the adult perspective, from the outside looking in,” she said in a phone interview. They try to determine what the intentions were of the perpetrator, and they often seek justice in the form of punishment.

“Bullying isn’t defined that way,” she said. “It’s defined by the experience of the recipient.” 

Bullying isn’t an act of aggression or personal hatred, she said. 

“What bullying truly is at its core essence is a cry for help,” she said. “No school is immune from the human suffering and the human cry for help; no school is immune to the suffering of the human spirit.” 

She finds bullying at Catholic schools is more subtle and emotional than at public schools and often includes exclusion and subtle rumoring. 

“At Catholic schools, “there’s an awareness, at least by the adults, of compassion, empathy, tolerance, forgiveness, core Catholic values. We have a pretty good position for compassion.” 

Is bullying more prevalent today than in past years, with the prevalence of social media and the Internet? 

“No,” she said with certainty. 

“I’m a survivor who works inside the American school system. I see it from all sides. Bullying is no worse today than it was when I was a student 45 years ago, the only difference is that the weaponry is more sophisticated and more dangerous.” 

She said rumors formerly printed on a piece of paper now are “Snapchatted, tweeted, passed around.” What would reach 30 kids 30 years ago now reaches an entire school or an entire nation. 

“It’s no worse today,” she said. “Kids have always been cruel because kids have always been hurt. The challenge now is the stakes are higher because the weaponry is more dangerous.” 

Her message is that schools should cultivate compassion to combat all types of bullying. 

“If any place should be intuitive to the human heart, it should be Catholic schools,” she said. 

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Nick Petrone wrote:
Thank you for sharing, Beth Murphy!

Sorry I missed the opportunity to hear Ms. Blanco's presentation.

Nick Petrone

Wed, October 10, 2018 @ 9:27 AM

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