'Bullies' gather to teach lessons

Editor's note: This corrects the first photo caption and adds the second photo.

NEWPORT BEACH — Gathered at a "Bullies Anonymous" meeting, kids, many in oversized T-shirts, hoodies, and backward and sideways hats, talked about the different kinds of bullying they enjoy.

There is the physical bully, who likes to punch and steal lunches, and the verbal bully, who spews insults and name calls, but there is also another kind of bully, and they don't always fit the stereotype.

Two blonde girls with butterflies on their shirts, one in sunglasses and Ugg boots and another in a tulle skirt, bragged about spreading rumors and excluding other girls from the group — the social bully.

"We're bullylious," said third-graders Genevieve Hilbert and Estella Pryor, both 8.

The "recovering bullies" talked and sang their way through two 30-minute anti-bullying plays Thursday at Andersen Elementary School.

The students, in grades 1-6, practiced for three months to teach their peers what constitutes bullying, why kids do it and how to stop it by acting confident, ignoring it or reporting it.

"I think we made some excellent progress today and learned ways not to act like bullies," said fifth-grade student Emma Daniel, 10, acting as the meeting's leader.

Second-grade teacher Brenda Colgate started the play years ago with just her students performing for the school. This year, though, she made it an extracurricular activity and opened it up to anyone in the school interested in performing.

Colgate said she started the play to keep the school ahead of the issue.

Although bullying isn't a big issue at the K-6 Newport Beach school, it's still important to address the topic and educate the students about it, said Principal Laura Vlasic.

Kids need to learn the difference between normal kid behavior where they learn from their actions, and bullying, which is repeated, targeted offensive behavior to another person, said PTA President Stacie Daniel, Emma's mother.

Before the second play began, Colgate asked the fourth- through sixth-grade students to really listen to the words of the songs, and after it was over they went through the key points.

"What we need to remember is there are tools you need to use when someone is not being kind or nice to you," Colgate told the students.

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