Bullying not OK, educator tells kids

PENSE, Sask. – Remember what it was like being the one nobody wanted on

a sports team? Not being included in a game at recess? Being ridiculed

for the clothes you wore?

Kim Ehman wants all children to know how painful that is and what they

can do to stop it.

The Craik, Sask., mother of four children aged seven to 14 has

developed a presentation about bullying, shunning and attitudes for

both children and adults.

“I was deeply affected by the Columbine and Taber school shootings,”

Ehman said after recent presentations at Pense Elementary School and

Stewart Nicks School in Grand Coulee.

So, after the April 1999 shootings, she put her skills as an actor to

use to create videos that hit home. The videos feature students from

the Craik school and Ehman’s own children.

She has now spoken to more than 7,000 students and about 700 parents

and teachers.

In Grand Coulee, there were few dry eyes among parents and teachers

after viewing Unknown Wounds. The video is the story of a young boy, an

only child, whose mother turns to alcohol after his father dies. As he

grows older other students ostracize him.

The end is violent and tragic.

Ehman said she wrote the powerful story in one evening. It is meant to

send a message, and it does.

“You don’t know what’s going on inside someone else,” she said.

Looking back, people realize the moments that something should have

been said or done. Ehman said the rate of suicide and attempted suicide

is high among Saskatchewan students.

The video for younger children, Seven Scenes, shows what choices

students can make.

It offers two versions of each scene and how students could handle

situations to include others and show respect.

She told students at Pense Elementary that feelings, both good and bad,

are felt in the heart.

Leaning close to look some of them in the eye, she asked, “Where’d you

get those clothes?”

There was no mistaking her tone, and when asked how they felt and

where, the students answered “bad” and put their hands to their hearts.

“If someone else chooses to wear their hair different or wear something

different, let them choose to be themselves,” Ehman said.

She also told them that no matter how many compliments a person

receives in a day, they will be erased by one insult or put-down.

“These negatives are the things we don’t forget,” she said.

“The negatives stay with you; the positives are gone.”

Ehman’s presentation, entitled Eh Man! Let’s Make a Difference! also

includes a documentary featuring people who were bullies and victims

and who considered suicide at a young age.

Ehman said it’s not all right for people to say kids will be kids.

“It’s not OK if it’s happening to you or your child.”

Many people tell her after watching the videos that they can see

themselves in some of the situations. She said she hopes schools in

particular remember to reinforce the positive and deal with the

negative.

“These things are happening to a lot of kids at a very deep level,” she

said.

In September, Ehman received a commemorative medal for the Queen’s

Golden Jubilee, recognizing her contribution to youth.

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