Test scores and basics are essential! But if kids don’t talk about the issues that affect their lives personally, they’ll have a real hard time focusing on history, math and reading. The Impact of PiE’s programs can be seen in a number of ways, as revealed in these accounts of Abuse, Bullying and ADHD:
Many children come forward to report abuse after our puppets explain that it’s happen to them, too. Over six years, PiE visited 40 schools offering free presentations. These visits resulted in 87 requests for help as a direct result of our abuse prevention programs (children disclosed physical abuse, sexual abuse, witnessing domestic violence, and self-reported abusing other children). Seven parents also disclosed their needs (help to stop abusing their own children and the need for support in domestic violence situations). Counseling was immediately provided and substantiation, investigation and prosecution by police and state officials, in a number of these cases, resulted.
Kids reveal to us a wide variety of bullying situations that they are the target of, or in some cases, are the perpetrator of. In 2007-2008 PiE conducted a pilot evaluation to investigate the impact of it’s Bullies and School Safety program on students in three 4th grade classes at a Chittenden County elementary school. The purpose of this effort was to help document that puppets are an effective means of educating children about bullying and to measure any gain in their knowledge and awareness about bullying and school safety. All presentations were offered to the school free. Although the sample size was small, the results were impressive.
- 94% of students interviewed who saw the performance said that they had gotten new ideas of what they could do the next time they were bullied.
- 46% of school personnel interviewed observed that students had tried anti-bullying strategies suggested by the puppets.
- 21 out of the 25 students interviewed stated that they thought kids could learn things about bullying by watching the puppet show. The four highest rated items were: 1) strategies of how to stop bullying; 2) that reporting is different from tattling; 3) it (the show) can give you reasons why not to bully; and 4) the puppets clarified what bullying behaviors include.
- Many students and school personnel interviewed remarked that the strategies taught in the PiE program were similar to and reinforced those taught in the school anti-bullying program, some stating that the language used was the same in both programs, which was helpful.
- All of the school personnel interviewed who attended the puppet performance remarked about the strong ability of the PiE/Kids on the Block-Vermont Bullies and School Safety program to reach kids, and stated they used the information shared by the puppets.
- One interviewee said: “It’s remarkable how incredibly powerful the Kids on the Block program is to kids…..Even jaded fourth graders are talking to the puppets…even on tough topics like bullying….Kids took it very seriously and they ‘got’ it. It is very effective.”
Children who have a physical or learning challenge will disclose teasing, exclusion, even the fears they have of their condition. For example, one girl raised her hand at a presentation and said, “I have ADHD too. Can you die from it?” She was aware of her challenges and how it affected her learning at school, but her bigger worry was a life & death question, which was not voiced until she talked to the puppets.