Secret Mean Stinks Interview - MomTrends

Secret Mean Stinks Interview

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With back-to-school also comes bullying. In fact, 10% of students report being bullied multiple times every week.* Through the support of Secret Mean Stinks via a P&G grant, leading researchers in peer bullying/victimization at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center created the “Girls Guide to End Bullying” curriculum, a web-based interactive curriculum designed to be easily used by individual students or by teachers/parents with clear actions on identifying and combating bullying.


To learn more about this campaign, we interviewed Ryan Adams, assistant professor of pediatrics for Cincinnati Children’s, so we could better understand this incredible curriculum.

Momtrends: Can you tell us what the "Girls Guide to End Bullying” curriculum is?

Ryan Adams: The “Girls Guide to End Bullying” in an online curriculum that we created through the support of Secret Mean Stinks. It has proven evidence of decreasing bullying and is accessible for individuals. When you go online you’ll see that the curriculum is organized around five types of bullying: physical verbal, sexual, relational and cyber. There are lessons on each topic filled with information, advice and tips on recognizing bullying, consequences of bullying, specific actions to do and not to do when bullying is happening around your or if it’s happening to you.

Momtrends: How big of a problem is Bullying?

Ryan Adams: At some point in their life most students are bullied with around 10% experiencing bullying daily. In addition, we find that in the past 10 years there have been increases in the rates of bullying perpetrated by girls.

Momtrends: Why do people usually act as bullies?

Ryan Adams: Like any behavior it is almost impossible to say why a specific instance of behavior occurred, but we do know that most bullying is done for some reason of social standing or status. In this respect, the easiest way to reduce bullying is to get kids to not reinforce bullying behaviors. For instance, don’t laugh when someone calls another person a name. Laughing only tells the bullying that you agree with them and makes it more likely that they will do it again. Also, not doing anything when you see bullying happening also reinforces the behavior because both the victim and the bully implicitly thing that by doing nothing you agree. One easy thing that can be done that shows you don’t agree is to address the victim by asking if they are OK or ask if they need help. You don’t even have to address the bully.

Momtrends: Can this behavior be reversed?

Ryan: We think so! If you look at the website you will find a ton of ways that this might happen. The idea was to provide as much knowledge and strategies for addressing bullying that individuals can pick and choose what works best for them. In addition, if you look at the “Bring It Together” sections of the site, we have quizzes for girls to take to see if they are the bully and ideas of how to address the issue. Ending girl-to-girl bullying is important to both Cincinnati Children’s Medical hospital and Secret Mean Stinks.

Momtrends: How is this curriculum created?

Ryan: We sat down with everything we could find out about bullying among girls and addressing girl-to-girl bullying. From that research, we identified effective principles and designed the site around that. Next, we created content for the site, followed by scripts for videos and activities to reinforce the content. Through this process we worked with some very talented individuals to create the site and shoot the videos. Along the way we conducted many focus groups with girls to make sure that it was easily understood and was relevant to their actual lives. Finally, we went to three schools and asked girls to use the curriculum to test its effectiveness.

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