Pictured above: Tyler Vallandingham participates with Keith Deltano in a skit showing Milton M. Somers Middle School students how to step up and stop bullying.
La Plata, MD – Comedian Keith Deltano is energetic, frenetic and gets his anti-bullying points across to middle schoolers with humor and straight talk.
Deltano is a comedian on a mission to combat bullying and he captured students’ attention at Milton M. Somers Middle School on Feb. 5 in three hour-long assemblies. The presentation, said Somers Principal Carrie Akins, supports the work of the school’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program.
There are four forms of bullying – physical, verbal, exclusion and online – all of which are mean, nasty and hurtful, Deltano said. He demonstrates how to stop physical abuse by loudly and clearly saying no. He reminds students, “No one has a right to touch your body.”
Deltano talks about cliques and the tired rules that keep people out of a group. His assembly is about acceptance, making new friends by reaching out, and encouraging the audience to stop judging one another by outward appearance, speech or economic status. The sixth graders applaud when he urges them to get kicked out the the group and meet new friends. Deltano challenges the students to question why they make fun of people, and reminds the girls that their value comes from who they are and not how they look or dress.
Deltano shares his personal story to convince students to embrace their “inner weirdness.” He talks to students about his early struggles – how he never quite fit in at school. Deltano said his learning disabilities made school hard and he was in third grade before he learned to read. Kids made fun of him and teachers told him he was not college bound. He never gave up, but it was tough, and he eventually graduated from college. “I believed the guidance counselor that said I wasn’t going to college. People sometimes stick us in boxes – nobody has a right to stick us in a box,” he said.
Social media, Deltano said, gives students an opportunity to bully or be bulled 24/7. “Social media messes up lives. Repeat after me – social media is prosecutable.” To show the lasting effect of social media posts, he talks about a high school senior who had a full scholarship offer withdrawn after the college found an inappropriate Facebook post the student wrote when he was in eighth grade.
“At Somers, we make an ongoing effort to address bullying and negative behaviors. We know that bullying happens and is happening. The opportunity to bring in a nationally recognized speaker gave us a chance to present this important information in a new format. We believe strongly that our students each have the power to be a positive influence on one another and today was a great opportunity to provide an important reminder of that,” Akins said.
“I like what Somers Middle School has been doing; they are taking a very proactive attitude towards building a safe and accepting school environment,” Deltano said.
Learn more about Deltano and his message at www.DontBullyOnline.com.