FORT MILL --
Author Bobbie Harrison of Rock Hill spoke Sept. 12 on the conflict between “Ingroups” and “Outgroups” at the regular meeting of the Youth Group at Fort Mill Church of God.
Harrison, whose debut novel, “Country Summers,” was published this past summer, suggested teens are the same at they were in the 1950s, the era in which the novel is set. God created them, they have the same emotions, same feelings, and they still want to connect to a group in which they have support and acceptance.
Today, as then, there are “in” groups and “out” groups. Members of either group can become like family because they have things in common.
In her talk, Harrison explained the notions of prejudice and bullying with the story of a social experiment conducted in the 1960s by Jane Elliott, a teacher of third graders in Iowa. This experiment showed how easily prejudice can influence the treatment of others.
As the experiment began, the class was divided into two groups: one with blue eyes, and one with brown eyes. Elliott told the blue-eyed group they were better than their brown-eyed peers. They were then sent to the playground. Immediately, bullying of the brown-eyed children began b.
When they returned to Elliott’s classroom, she turned the message around, telling the brown-eyed group they were smarter, better looking, and funnier than the blue-eyed students. Again they were sent to the playground. More bullying ensued as arguments, shoving, pushing, and yelling erupted, even though before the experiment all the students had gotten along well.
When the students came in, the teacher processed the experiment with her class. She explained the brown-eyed students felt superior and therefore they allowed prejudice to create their attitude about blue-eyed students. Then, she explained how it turned vice versa with the blue-eyed students against the brown eyes.
Harrison, a retired educator and therapist, explained the differences between the notions of prejudice and discrimination, using specially created blocks. She taught the Youth Group that prejudice means judging before all the facts are known. Discrimination is making a choice that may allow prejudice to create negative attitudes. Those attitudes can lead to bullying.
Using further examples from her own experiences as a social worker and guidance counselor, Harrison explained how young people who feel isolated from an Ingroup can fall victim to gang activity.
In a role play, the speaker invited members of the audience to participate in an activity illustrating Ingroups and Outgroups, where the “Cool Kids” are the Ingroup and the “Uncool Kids” are the Outgroup. This led the Youth Group to the conclusion you can’t be one of the Cool Kids unless you leave out the Uncool Kids.
Harrison concluded her talk by emphasizing the following ideas:
• When making new friends, try to find similarities with the new person.
• Work on making yourself feel more secure as a person.
• Pass along these lessons.
“Country Summers” is available at www.Amazon.com in paperback or Kindle versions.