Celia Says: What’s my role? Bully…Victim….Bystander

I slap her. I actually slap that eye-rolly look right off Quincy Dayton’s face.  I see my best friend, Jazzy walk away like a zombie looking for her own grave.

celia bullying trio

This is how I start “Starring Celia”– by introducing the trio of any bullying dynamic.

  • The Bully: Who is using their power to hurt someone else on purpose.
  • The Victim: Who is targeted, often repeatedly
  • The Bystander: Who watches and, in this case, is too paralyzed to do anything

Recently, when I read this chapter to a group of 4th graders, I asked them to think of a time they felt like one of these characters in their real lives. I was moved by their honesty”

“I felt like Celia before. So mad she couldn’t stop herself.”

“I feel like Jazzy when my two best friends fight and I don’t know what to do.”

“Quincy feels smug- like she wants to use her power to hurt people. Sometimes I get like that with my little brother.”

They had many examples and stories to pull from. We performed them, writing new endings in some cases that featured Kidpower safety skills.


Allison & Tesla Face OffI’m so grateful to be a certified Kidpower instructor. For years, I wanted to do everything I could to keep kids safe but rarely knew how to intervene. Kidpower is brilliant because it gives kids and adults the words to say. Kidpower workshops give adults and kids a chance to practice “People Safety Skills” through role play. I know my skills will deepen over time, but the foundation I have through my work at Kidpower gives me new confidence on playgrounds, in classrooms, and in my own life. Knowing how to take charge of safety is like a superpower. It wards off fear that I won’t know what to do to make a difference. Now I trust myself to be the kid-advocate I always wanted to be.

I didn’t know how to write an ending to “Starring Celia” without featuring Kidpower skills. It was a superpower to me, kids and grown-ups all over the world…why not Celia? Irene Van der Zande is the Founder of Kidpower and gives away tons of free info about how to prevent bullying on her website. She also had this to say about “Starring Celia”:

“Starring Celia” is a compelling, heart-warming story that deals with hard issues like bullying in a hopeful and empowering way. Celia’s inside commentary is laced with humor and wisdom that accurately reflect the angst and joy of the preteen years. Any girl who has felt alone or gotten upset for making mistakes will identify with Celia and learn and grow as they read about her adventures at a Go Girl Camp. We feel honored that a taste of the Kidpower program is included in this excellent book!

As I wrote this book, I read sections at a time to girls at camp and girls at the schools where I teach. “Is this realistic?” I’d ask. “Is it really like this for you?” I wondered if my opening was melodramatic, the range of emotions too severe, Celia’s experience too heightened. “She’s just a regular girl,” they told me. Several of my students (and one of my nieces) are convinced that I based the character entirely after them.

So what did I learn by writing “Starring Celia?”  That bullying is real. Part of everyday life, in fact. Our children need us to put on a Kidpower superhero cape, step calmly and confidently into their lives in order to listen, protect and help create a happy ending.

Allison Signs & Smiles.Starring CeliaAllison Kenny is the author of “Starring Celia” and the co-founder of Go Girls! @ Glitter & Razz.  “Celia Says” is a series that brings to life the lessons she learned while writing the book.  She shares them as a way of helping you you to tap into your inner Go Girl! with courage and compassion.