When RESPECT first began, people didn’t think bullying was a problem – at least, not here in Nebraska. Now, over 15 years later, it is clear that bullying is a problem in our schools and social environments, but it is a problem that comes with solutions.
Over the past decade, RESPECT has helped to decrease violence and abuse in our communities. This work is done with the use of interactive theatre programs and focuses on the prevention of abusive relationship dynamics (those found in bullying, child abuse, dating violence, relational aggression, domestic violence, animal abuse, and sexual harassment) among children and youth. Short educational theater presentations are paired with panel or group discussions led by community professionals and our actor-educators. RESPECT is the only organization of its kind in the state of Nebraska, and even travels into Iowa and South Dakota. While we use theater, we do not teach it as an art, but rather as a tool for problem-solving and communication while capturing the attention of all ages.
With just a small staff of administrators and educators, RESPECT reaches approximately 40,000 students a year with programs appropriate for preschool through high school, as well as training for parents, educators, and community members. Additionally, RESPECT collaborates with numerous organizations throughout Nebraska and maintains both a Community Advisory Committee and Student Advisory Committee to ensure that our content stays relevant and appropriate.
Our goals at RESPECT are to decrease the acts of bullying, but, even more important, to empower kids and adults who may be on the sidelines to take action and stand up to help a target. Our programs are designed to let individuals come up with their own solutions and own methods for making their schools and environments comfortable and safe places. As we say during our programs: just making somebody’s day even 10% better is an incredible accomplishment.