Tackling bullying: Teens discuss behavior in 'Lord of the Flies' and real life



A dozen young women sat in a circle with their teachers and began to discuss William Golding's book, "Lord of the Flies."

The book is about a group of plane-wrecked English schoolboys who forge alliances and break them while trying to self-govern and survive on a deserted island. The students began to draw parallels to the boys in the book, who ultimately find themselves living among filth, rags and flies.

"If I don't feel good, I'm grumpy," one girl told the group.

"Think about it. If you're tired or hungry or don't feel good about yourself, it affects your mood," said Hester Kamin.

Kamin is the director of education for Barrington Stage Company and recently led a workshop for the group of women, all members of the Helen Berube Teen Parent Program in Pittsfield.

The topic presented was bullying, a theme presented in Barrington Stage's upcoming theatrical performance of "Lord of the Flies." In addition to the visit, the students will take a field trip to see the play this week.

Through movement, group activities and discussion, the workshop ultimately served as a vehicle for the teens, creating self-awareness and goal-setting for the group.

"Personally, I think of bullying as very different among boys and girls," Kamin said.

The students responses varied.

'It depends on the person," said one young woman.

"I think anybody can be a bully," her classmate said.

"One thing considered in the play is whether bullying is human nature" Kamin said.

"The complicating thing is how come we allow it. For example, Obama is president because we said so. You could be throwing milk cartons and doing cartwheels while I'm talking, but you're not because we're under general agreement to be here and to be respectful. But we let bullying happen," said Kamin.

Another young woman said, "It's not right, but it happens."

During the program, several of the young women, a combination of pregnant women and ladies with young children, said that they were bullied, or regularly criticized, for being teen moms.

In an effort to empower and educate the group, Kamin helped the students create an anti-bullying contract for their classroom.

One young women said, "We're here for our kids, our little ones. We're here finishing school so they can see that we made it."

The goal was translated onto a poster to read: "Behave the way we would want our kids to behave."

Heather Williamson, the new executive director of the Helen Berube Teen Parent Program, said the Barrington Stage workshop is just one of several opportunities the education and child care center hopes to offer its students.

"Any and every connection for them helps," Williamson said.


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