The Evolution of a Bully | City of Ideas

Posted 11/25/2012 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
So many of us have experienced bullying while growing up that we have began to see it as “part of life.”  However, with resulting youth suicides, a concentrated effort must be made to educate our most vulnerable population. Between 4th and 8th grade, 90% of students are victims of bullying. Our program examines and addresses the impact on victims, perpetrators and  public safety.  Boston has been struggling with student retention and student engagement aimed at reducing the drop out rate. It is important to note that 1 out of 10 students drop out of school because they are bullied. The effects are also detrimental to the perpetrator. Research by Fight Crime/Invest in Kids reports that 60% of boys who bullied from first grade through ninth grade were convicted of at least one crime by age 24 and 40% had three or more convictions by age 24. The costs of failed anti-bullying practices, in terms of incarceration, rehabilitation, inability to find work etc. far outweigh the costs of implementing effective programming. Ultimately, bullying is a public safety issue. Of the 37 school shootings reviewed by the U.S. Secret Service, bullying was involved in 75% of the cases.

Project Proposed:
The Back to a Village; The Evolution of a Bully program distinguishes itself by the fact that it was started by a group of men who are currently incarcerated. The men at Old Colony Correctional Facility along with the DOC and several community participants created a 20 minute educational video about bullying. The video provides real life examples and situations of bullying that the youth can relate to.  The “lessons” are delivered through media that makes it accessible to at risk youth regardless of their level of education or reading comprehension skills. We will develop curricula based on the video, for youth, parents, and providers. It will define bullying, review facts and impact, explain legal consequences and provide resources.  The material will be delivered in “workshop” format that creates a safe environment for sharing. In addition, a game will be built modeling the “chose your own adventure” story books. The goal will be to outline the 3 C’s of the challenge (what the problem is), your Choices,  and the Consequence. The outcome is that youth will realize the power of decision making that they hold and be empowered to make the right decisions.

Role of Collaboration:
We want to provide workshops to the following key stakeholders: parents, youth, service providers and community. MAMLEO will co-ordinate the school based efforts, working with middle and high schools, but also engaging students who have dropped out through the Re-Engagement center. Pastor Dickerson will focus on the faith-based community by organizing program delivery within the churches. Kevin Thomas and Drive will work with parents, youth through parenting programs, community centers and the Department of Youth Services.  Lastly, Drive will co-ordinate the efforts to educate service providers. Press Pass TV will design curriculum and lesson plans for each stakeholder group.

This will enable us to launch a comprehensive educational effort that will impact the lives of boys throughout the city. By educating the service providers and parents, we are able to make sure that youth have the necessary support system when faced with bullying. Parents are going to be able to recognize the signs (whether their child is a bully or is being bullying) early on and prevent tragedies such as suicides from occurring.  By educating the perpetrator, we are able to instill long-term thinking when it comes to consequences for your actions. Many youth are unaware of the very real legal consequences that have been enacted in the past few years and how it can impact the rest of their lives. The victim will now have a clear set of resources and will be better equipped to handle bullying. Both bully and victim will learn about the consequences of their choices and the power they hold to make the right ones. Finally, we will tare down walls of isolation and shame that so many victims experience.  Ultimately the goal is to drastically reduce bullying while increasing the reporting rate so youth can get help before it is too late.

Other information:
The low number of reporting, 57% of students who experience harassment in school never report the incident (boys have the lowest rates) makes it clear that the ACTUAL number of kids who experience bullying is probably much higher than we have accounted for.
In addition, 1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% percent of the time.  Of those who do report,  83% of all bullying cases go unaddressed. It thus becomes crucial for us to provide a tool that will increase the resilience of the victim, educate the service providers and outline clear consequences for the perpetrator.  More importantly, we wish to pilot a replicable model which can be used in a variety of setting, by numerous agencies and lay the foundation for similar models to be created across the United States. 
The program will be delivered in churches, middle schools, high schools, youth detention facilities , social workers, tenant organizations etc.

Primary Contact:
Darrin Howell, Project Director

Darrin was born and raised in Dorchester and Mattapan, the youngest of 12 children. Darrin moved out of his parents' house at age 17. Grounded with a good work ethic, he maintained employment in various corporate settings, including a financial institution, an insurance agency, and a medical center. He began attending college, completing three semesters at Katherine Gibbs Boston.  Yet, Darrin also felt the pull of the streets. At age 21, he was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm, and sentenced to a year in jail. Before serving time, Darrin had no long-term aspirations. Like many young men in our community, his goal was to simply to survive. Once in jail, and locked in a cell for nearly 23 hours a day, Darrin deeply reflected on his life and his goals. He realized he needed to turn his life around and start giving back to the community. When Darrin was released from the Suffolk County House of Corrections, he was given five dollars and told not to come back. He hadn't been provided any resources for finding employment or for transitioning back into the community.
Darrin took initiative and sought gainful employment on his own. He registered with over 200 staffing and temporary employment agencies. Yet, because of his CORI, he faced extraordinary challenges. At one job, Darrin was offered a permanent position after a two-week temporary assignment. He informed his employers of his CORI. His employers proceeded to have him train someone in the work he was doing and, when it was clear that the person trained was competent in doing the job, fired Darrin and hired the person he had trained.
Confused and frustrated, Darrin was encouraged to call Boston Councilor Chuck Turner for advice. Councilor Turner offered him a position on his staff as Director of Constituent Services. Darrin has since become a community leader and role model for youth, advocating for increased affordable housing and workforce development programs, and for better public safety. He has become an expert on violence prevention, leading a number of initiatives to reduce crime and recidivism, including serving as the lead author on a report examining homicides throughout the city, and spearheading programs to bring together victims and perpetrators of violence to create "ambassadors of peace." Darrin deeply and personally understands the struggles our communities face. He is a natural leader, and brings people together to overcome challenges.

He is the founder of DRIVE Boston which works with high risk youth and adults who have experienced incarceration to provide them with the support needed to fully re-enter society as a productive and positive force.

Partner 1:
Press Pass TV will be in charge of editing and packaging the video as well as developing multiple curriculums based on the population served (youth vs parents etc.)

Press Pass TV is an award-winning organization that harnesses the power of media arts to provide meaningful education and employment for youth living in underserved neighborhoods. We offer creative outlets as an alternative to violence, teach life-sustaining skills and empower communities to find shared solutions and envision a better world.

Cara is an innovative strategic thinker working across a variety of disciplines build the capacity of communities to create meaningful and lasting change. With over 12 years experience in youth media and non-profit management, she has developed youth media programs in Boston, Lowell and Worcester. In addition to time spent on the Adjunct Faculty at Wheelock College and UMASS Boston, Cara has guest lectured at Worcester State University, Northeastern University, MIT, Simmons College, and Amherst College. She has produced programming for MTV & NBC, and has provided training in media and social change to non-profit leaders like Oxfam and Facing History & Ourselves. Cara has completed her doctorate n Educational Leadership and Change and her first book By Any Media Necessary, a guide for engaging youth in change through media is available at She is the Vice-Chair of the Worcester Human Rights Commission and also serves on the Board of Directors for the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center in the neighborhood that she and her husband reside in.

Originally from Bulgaria, Joanna has taught extensively on the use of media arts in creating a fair and just society. Her work has been featured on radio, television, print, and in film festivals. She is a member of the National Organizers Alliance and has written for The Youth Media Reporter and the Huffington Post. With a B.S. in International Relations and Economics from the University of Toronto, Joanna has solid corporate experience having worked for Citizens Bank and Wellington Financial Management. She was the founder and president of Women in Life Learning, a Toronto based nonprofit. Joanna has over 10 years of experience and a proven track record in management, operations and development work in nonprofits.

Partner 2:
Kevin and Darrin from Drive Boston  (Primary workshop facilitators)

Kevin Thomas has been awarded and recognized with (2) recognition awards from The Massasachusetts House of Represenattives, (4) Citations from The Boston City Council,  and recognition from  The Massachusetts  State House,  and the 2012 recipient of The Stanley Jones Courage Award. He is a graduate of the Boston University Institute of Management and Leadership, he is a Certified MRT (Moral Reconation Therapy) Trainer, Certified OWDS Global Facilitator/Trainer. The Big Motivator developed his unique brand of empowering and motivating as a young student in Roxbury, Massachusetts and honed his gift to elevate students and educators sharing his phenomenal victory over the multitude of challenges students and educators face rising to their full potential and beyond.

He is a charismatic motivational speaker who delivers powerful and inspirational presentations to Students  Business Leaders, Educational Institutions, Employment Training Agencies and Federal, State, and County governmental institutions, Community Partners, Public Schools, Universities and Colleges across the country.
Mr. Thomas is committed to empowering educators and students to realize their highest levels of potential, personal enrichment, and professional excellence. He is sought after for his energetic delivery and passionate expression, celebrated for inspiring his audience to action.
During his two years as a Community Resource Specialist for the United States Probation Office in the Eastern District of Missouri he became a faculty member for the Administration Office of Washington D. C. Federal Training Branch speaking to Federal Criminal Defenders, U S Attorneys, U S District Court Judges, Chief Probation Officers and line staff from all 94 Federal Districts with the USPO Chief of Probation Douglas Burris and USPO Deputy Chief Scott Anders inspiring professionals to maximize their mission of service and productive outcomes.

Partner 3:
Pastor William Dickerson is a well respected and highly visible community member. He is dedicated to the improvement of the lives of black boys and as such does tremendous work within the prison system and with men who are coming back to our communities. He has an extensive network within the city and can easily facilitate faith based dialogues around bullying.

Pastor William E. Dickerson, II was born in Newport News, Virginia and reared in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the founding Pastor of Greater Love Tabernacle which began in 1989.

He is a much sought after speaker and consultant in the areas of family matters, anti-violence and male leadership development. He provides counseling and support to various church and political leaders. William is a graduate of the Boston Latin School. After high school he graduated from Bible Institute and completed an undergraduate degree in Business Management. He continued his education and obtained a Master’s of Education degree (M. Ed) in counseling/psychology from Cambridge College, Cambridge, MA and a Master’s Degree (MA) in Urban Ministry from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston, MA. He has an honorary doctorate degree (Ph. D) from St. Thomas Christian College and Seminary. William is a former Boston public school teacher and a former adjunct college instructor.

William’s ministry has impacted many individuals and families locally and abroad. He has been married to his wife Luella for more than 30 years. William and Luella are the proud parents of three adults and one grandchild.

Partner 4:
Larry Ellis is the President of MAMLEO and also works within the Boston Public School district with students who experience truancy and other violations. This makes him an excellent candidate to work with this high risk population.

MAMLEO is dedicated to the improvement of relations between police officers and the community, recruitment of minority personnel to serve as law enforcement officers and to assist in establishing a nationwide communication network to improve police performance through education and the sharing of experiences.

As part of its overall program, MAMLEO went into the neighborhoods and its members spoke at church and civic meetings. The goal was to improve the relationship between police officers and the black community and, in addition, to try to attract young minorities into law enforcement.  Many of the youth within the community began to question and reject the commonly held belief that, by entering law enforcement one became a traitor to ones race or an "Uncle Tom". They began to accept the idea that being within the system enables one to know and understand how the system works and to affect changes by working within the system. They were able to observe that being a police officer increased black pride, dignity and self-esteem.

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