Students and faculty share their views on the annual JCPS anti-bullying video


Phoebe Monsour

As the mandatory harassment and discrimination prevention video played, the students were quiet. A repetitive beat greeted the students’ ears. Brooke Coughenour (11, VA) hated the “clip-art” graphics the video had. She started paying attention to the woman in the corner translating the video into American Sign Language. The woman seemed to be watching the video as she signed. Suddenly, Coughenour noticed the woman was almost laughing. “I hate you,” an illustrated phone read. No one laughed, or even seemed to notice. Coughenour smirked. She put her hand over her mouth, not wanting people to think she was laughing at bullying.

In the auditorium where some homerooms had gone, however, laughter greeted the words.

A screenshot of the phone with the words “I hate you.”

Coughenour was ranting about the video just before her AP U.S. History class started. She did not seem to get its point. “I’ve never seen a person bullied in this school. I don’t know why we watched that.”

Yet there is a reason why JCPS shows the video. “It’s completely necessary to have that type of conversation with students because when you’re at a high performing school, everyone wants to come in on the first day and overlook one of the most important things, which is building relationships and looking at safety for students. That’s one of the reasons why we knock out the drills on the first day,” Assistant Principal Mr. Craig Klingenfus said. “If there is some sort of beef someone had with one another or there is some kind of history between or among students that’s not positive then hopefully this is a forum by which students can then address those concerns that they had with their peers.”

Still, Klingenfus believed the video was not suited for a teen audience.

“I don’t know exactly where it fell short, whether it was the music or whether it was the graphics or the lack thereof,” Klingenfus said. “Maybe it’s more facts and statistics, and it’s more narratives for types of situation.”

Siona Morgan, however, believes she knows what might be wrong with the video.

“It’s time for an update, since [JCPS has] used it so much. It got the message across, but it could have used some more modern examples,” Morgan said. “[The video] did mention stuff about social media, but I don’t really think that [JCPS] went in depth enough with that because of how much bullying does happen online.”

Still, Klingenfus believed the video had value.

Klingenfus said, “If you’ve had a personal connection with bullying, I think it’s very impactful. If you’re a student that is not a person who bullies or has been bullied, it might have fell on deaf ears.”

At the end of the clip, Klingenfus addressed the students in the auditorium about a couple of the flaws he saw in the video. The music bugged him, but of course, he had to mention what made most of the students giggle. No one got punished for laughing during the serious video. Even one of the vice principals thought the infamous text was strange: Who bullies with the words “I hate you?”