Middlesex Middle School seventh-graders recently participated in a full-day assembly on bullying.

The anti-bullying program began with the "Step Up!" presentation lead by a representative from the Anti-Defamation League, who explained the different roles people play in bullying situations, such as the target, the perpetrator, and the bystander and ally; the dynamics of typical incidents of bias; and the array of responses that are available.

The program's goal is to teach the targets of bullying productive responses, to build empathy in the aggressors and to inspire the bystanders to become allies.

Students from Darien High School also participated in the presentation by sharing their own experiences with bullying.

After the "Step Up!" presentation, the students broke off into small groups to discuss what they learned during the ADL presentation and to reflect on how bullying affects their lives in and out of school. Later in the day, the seventh-graders watched the movie "Radio," which is inspired by a true story about a high school coach who befriends a mentally challenged student who is being bullied. With the coach's support, the young man is able to gain the respect of his schoolmates and community.

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Middlesex also conducts assemblies for the sixth-graders on Internet safety and for the eighth-graders on cyberbullying.