Bullycide Project comes to Dearborn

Photo courtesy of Dearborn Public Schools

A Bullycide Project performer portrays Matt Epling, a 14-year-old boy who committed suicide after being bullied and beaten. He loved riding his BMX bike and the beating occurred one day when he was riding his bike and he was jumped by a group of older boys as part of a “welcome to high school hazing.”

DEARBORN — Fordson High School freshmen and sophomores were the first students in Dearborn to have the Bullycide Project visit their school. The students left the hour-long presentation with a new perspective on how hurtful bullying can be and the impact it has on its victims.

“This is very mature subject matter and at first students in the audience really weren’t sure how to react to the material being presented, but the moving and emotion packed performance soon had them intensely listening and learning,” Fordson Principal Youssef Mosallam said.

Bullycide performed two shows at Fordson. The morning performance was attended by about 700 sophomores, and about the same number of freshmen took in the afternoon program.

The group will take their performance to Dearborn High at 8:25 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. Friday and then to Edsel Ford High School on Jan. 11 at the same times. Parents are invited to attend the performance but should first check in with the office.

Bringing the Bullycide Project to Dearborn is just one of many activities going on in all schools as the district follows through on a community-wide Response to Bullying Program launched in the fall of 2011.

Knowing that being proactive rather than reactive will have a bigger impact on the community, the Dearborn Public Schools worked with city and community organizations to bring about a sustained and system-wide approach to address bullying behavior during and outside of the school day.

The program includes training to help people identify bullying behavior, a system to report and track the behavior, a district-wide response to bullying curriculum, and a required minimum of three events per year held at each school that will address the subject of bullying.

The Bullycide Project is based on the book “Bullycide in America,” compiled by Brenda High and written by mothers who have lost a child to suicide due to excessive bullying. The show consists of a collection of bullycide stories told from the perspective of the children that committed suicide as well as the bully, the bystander, the person who stands up to bullying, and even the parents.

Live music and visual projections enhance the narrative and many of the students’ personal belongings are used in the production such as a bike helmet, a Tony Hawk sweatshirt, poetry books, and a backpack.