Before the Bell – Stand up and speak up against bullying

It is 20 minutes before the first class. Students are waiting for the school bell to ring. Tensions are high and problems soon arise. A riveting school play about aggressive patterns of behaviour in teenagers and bullying in school starts with an everyday situation faced by pupils across the world. How must we behave in such situations and how can we understand the problems teenagers are faced with every day?

Being a teenager is never easy, but when the situation at home and in school is not supportive, tensions rise quickly and in some cases result in violence. Unfortunately, around 40% of pupils across Europe face some form of bullying and harassment at school. In an effort to educate teens about the causes and consequences of aggressive and abusive behaviour, as part of the EU for Your Rights campaign, the EU Info Centre organised the first of eight planned performances in secondary schools across Bosnia and Herzegovina in Druga gimnazija in Mostar.

During the powerful performance, pupils and actors of Druga gimnazija Sarajevo depicted familiar scenes in school corridors, classrooms and courtyards, showing how aggressive patterns of behaviour can lead to long lasting consequences to the development and personal growth of youth. The play touches upon the themes of abusive and absent parents, socialisation, acceptance of homosexuality and, in general, what it is like to be different in an ever-changing society.

Following the performance, during a forum-theatre form of discussion, pupils had an opportunity to talk about their problems with their peers and listened to advice on how to act when confronted with bullying. Agreeing that there is an individual and collective responsibility to work on prevention and reduction of the number of people affected by bullying, the pupils agreed that the best solution is to speak up and help those in need.