MTV has started a new reality program that shines a light on bullying and cliques in High School called “If You Really Knew Me“. This 12 part documentary series is co-created by Challenge Day, an anti-bullying program group for High School Students.
Much like the movie “The Breakfast Club”, this series pulls youths from different cliques together and has them communicate and share to help break diversity and difference issues to create empathy and understanding within the group.
The program shows students that they have the power to break up cliques and put an end to bullying, says Challenge Day CEO Jaime Polson. Teens also see how their words and actions hurt their peers, which usually comes as a surprise. “They often forget just how much power they have and how much they matter to other people,” Polson says.
On July 27, MTV brings Challenge Day to Anthony Wayne High School in Whitehouse, Ohio, where cyberbullying is a major problem.
Cyberbullying can be worse than traditional bullying, says Julie Hartline, a counselor at Campbell High School in Smyrna, Ga.: “There’s a greater exposure, which causes the student to feel even more singled out because more people are aware of what’s being done to them.”
Sela Gaglia, a Challenge Day leader for 11 years, says the program teaches teens that they don’t have to be “victims of their surroundings.” (USA Today)
The concept of the show is to show that, even with diversity, the students are not that much different from each other. Breaking down the barriers that create animosity and hate are key hopes of this program. In a USA Today article, the Challenge Day team discusses this further.
Polson says bullying stops when teens feel comfortable in their own skin, and Challenge Day helps do that. “Most students walk away feeling like they really got a chance to show who they were,” she says.
I’m not totally sold on this concept being a solution to bullying, but certainly think that open communication among diverse groups help create empathy among the participants. That certainly should reduce bullying among those that are involved in the program.