Fort Worth schoolchildren learn how to deal with bullies

FORT WORTH -- Randall spent his whole school day trying to avoid Jerome.

The fictitious bully targeted Randall from the moment they got on the bus, sent him mean text messages and even tried to rough him up for lunch money.

Randall wanted to pay him off, but his teacher -- referencing Mahatma Gandhi -- told the boy to fight his enemies with his mind and be creative.

By the end of the play Big Bully, Randall came up with a musical solution to ultimately stand up to and befriend Jerome.

"If you're being bullied, do not be afraid to tell somebody," said Randall, played by Adam Dietrich.

The play, produced by local theater group The Butterfly Connection, was performed at Dolores Huerta Elementary School on Thursday as part of the Fort Worth school district's anti-bullying month.

Along the hallway was a banner signed by nearly 600 students pledging to fight bullies.

Third-grader Heidy Top could relate to the play. The 8-year-old had a neighbor who once bullied her but is now her friend.

"I had to stand up for myself and say, 'You need to stop doing this,'" Heidy said. "And then she stopped."

Dietrich asked those in the audience whether they had ever been picked on. Nearly all students and teachers raised their hands.

School counselor Kyle Rivera encouraged students to come to her for help.

"It happens to a lot of kids at a lot of schools all across the nation," she told them.

The Butterfly Connection will perform Big Bully in Abilene and Eagle Mountain-Saginaw schools in the coming weeks.

This year, the Fort Worth district launched the "It's Not OK" campaign, which focuses on harassment concerns.

Councilman Joel Burns made national headlines last week with his emotional plea to youngsters not to take their own lives because of bullying.

At Huerta Elementary, third-grader Jose Ornelas said that it's hard dealing with bullies but that everyone has to fight it.

"We want to stop bullying so everyone can be safe," he said.

Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700