Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Whose side are you on? - continued

Recently published figures indicate that 47% of 14-year-olds have experienced some sort of bullying. The figure is a little less for 15-year-olds (41%) and lower still for 16-year-olds (29%). Evidence suggests that kids who are bullied at 14 and 15 obtain significantly poorer GCSE results - equivalent to two grades lower.

Are those who stand by and watch whilst others get bullied no better than the bullies themselves? That's what Newsround wanted kids to think about when they called their latest Special Whose side are you on?

In the beginning we see Jack waking up at the start of a school day. He walks to school with his sister, Ellie, who asks why he's been avoiding his friend Liam. We see Liam being bullied, but Jack has been keeping out the way watching it happen and doing nothing to help Liam.

In school that day Jack meets the first of his celebrity advisers, Aston Merrygold from JLS. Aston asks "do you know what it's like to be bullied?" and explains that he was the only black kid in his football team and suffered name-calling and verbal abuse which made him feel miserable.

Jack refuses to walk back with Liam after school. Liam asks him "whose side are you on?"

Jack bumps into Joe Calzaghe at the after-school boxing club, and is surprised to learn that Joe was also picked on. We then see what happened to Joe when he was younger. Kids went biking to Joe's house trying to pick a fight with him. Joe resisted the taunts and got called 'sissy' and other names. He focussed on his boxing and it helped him ignore the bullying.

Jack is still reluctant to help Liam. On his way back home Jack looks in a TV shop window and sees Patsy Palmer - Bianca from EastEnders. Patsy relates her experiences of being bullied because of her ginger hair - it was the worst time of her life. Patsy tells Jack that bullied kids need help, and they need their friends to stick by them.

Moments later Jack meets George Sampson, winner of Britain's Got Talent 2008. George tells Jack that he had dance lessons when the other kids were playing football. They thought he was 'weird,' but he knew who his real friends were - the ones who stood by him and didn't care what anyone else thought.

Back home Jack's sister Ellie is online, chatting to Liam. Ellie says that Liam seems really lonely and asks her brother why he doesn't like him any more. Ellie suggests that Jack should talk to Liam, but when Jack refuses she tells him that he is just as bad as the bullies.

Jack is watching TV in the evening when he meets the last celebrity, Gemma Hunt from CBBC. Gemma tells Jack not to bury his head in the sand, and that the bullies will stop if they see that Liam has got friends like Jack around him. Gemma tells Jack to decide whose side he's on.

Jack is in bed mulling over all the advice, and in the morning he decides the right thing to do is to let everyone know that he is standing by his friend Liam.

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