Education feature: Pro rodeo clown brings bullying program to local students

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Marvin Nash was in Curry County this week working with the sheriff’s department to introduce the program “Bullying Hurts” at rural schools.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Bullying in schools has changed and its impact reaches further than most people think, according to Marvin Nash.

Nash, a professional rodeo clown from Cheyenne, Wyo., said beyond individual emotional trauma, bullying can lead to poor school performance and even school violence and suicide.

Nash was in Curry County working with the sheriff’s department to introduce his program “Bullying Hurts” at rural schools.

Grady, Melrose and Texico high school students in the Future Farmer’s of America program were introduced to the program Tuesday and Wednesday and will begin mentoring elementary school students.

The message is deployed by the older students through approximately six sessions with third- to sixth-graders. Educational videos, posters and an interactive student manual are used to share the message with the younger children.

During the sessions students have discussions about bullying and identify how it makes them feel and strategies for dealing with bullies.

Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray said he chose the program as an outreach effort for county schools because of the mentoring component.

By using older students to work with elementary students, both groups get the message. “It doesn’t put an extra burden on teachers and the kids will identify with older kids,” Murray said.

Nash’s anti-bullying materials use rodeo clowning as an example of “being smarter, faster and getting support and help from the right people” and promotes messages such as “violence is never the answer” and “don’t be afraid to do the right thing, step in and help a friend.”

Texico juniors Meagan Martinez and Crystal Tarango listened to Nash’s presentation Tuesday.

“I’ve seen it happen to kids and never did anything about it,” Martinez said, explaining what she heard made her think.

“I have two little sisters and I worry about them.”

Tarango agreed and said she learned kids can make a difference if they make bullying unacceptable.

Times have changed, Nash said, explaining today’s youth face bullying through text messaging and the Internet in addition to old-fashioned school yard bullying and note passing, he said.

“We’re having to learn a different concept about bullying,” he said.

“As a community and a society we don’t think about this.”

A nasty text message about someone can spread exponentially through buildings, towns and even across state lines in a matter of minutes, he said. And the Internet provides young people the same speed and reach to disseminate hate or hurtful ploys against other youth with the added cloak of anonymity, he said.

In many cases, Nash said state laws have not caught up with the abuse of such technology.

Incidents like the Columbine school shootings and the suicide of a Missouri teen who was taunted online by a classmate’s mother are examples of some of the consequences of bullying that wasn’t stopped, he said.