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Kids taught to stave off bullying

Despite the martial arts weapons, crash pads and variations of punching bags in the makeshift classroom, T.J. Quicksilver is trying to teach kids how to deal with bullies without resorting to violence.

“I would rather that they learn how to avoid getting into a fight,” Quicksilver said. “Fighting is a last-ditch effort.”

Quicksilver works at Las Vegas Movie Mastars Action & Entertainment Nexus, 2700 E. Patrick Lane, Suite 16, where acting and action overlap.

The business acts as an entertainment production house and a training facility. Its Fear No Bully program is just more than a month old and was designed to fill what organizers said was a growing need.

“I have a friend who works at one of the high schools in town, and she told me about a disturbing number of teen suicides in town brought on by bullying,” Quicksilver said. “We just felt something had to be done.”

The class typically lasts an hour, with lessons geared toward the age of the participants. Organizers said participants can’t start too young.

“They say bullying begins around third grade,” Quicksilver said. “So we want to start talking to kids about it as soon as we can.”

One of the first steps was trying to find an anti-bullying video to screen, but Quicksilver quickly discovered that there wasn’t much material out there. At an early session of Fear No Bully, organizers showed a short black-and-white anti-bullying film from the ’50s. While some of the principles hold up, nearly everything else about the film is woefully out of date. That’s why Quicksilver’s team has already begun to work on its own film on the subject.

“We’re hoping to produce something that’s a little more pertinent,” Quicksilver said. “We thought, since we make movies, why not do something to deal with the problem?”

The Fear No Bully class touches on cyber bullying but is more concerned with face-to-face bullying.

“It’s all about stopping bullies from being bullies,” Quicksilver said. “We teach the kids an escalating scale to deal with the conflict. We teach them to be open and public about what’s happening to them and to let an adult know what’s happening.”

On March 5, Quicksilver taught a special session of the Fear No Bully program called Hanging Tough to a group of more than 20 foster children brought in by Child Focus, a nonprofit organization that helps kids in foster care.

“It was a longer class than we usually teach, in part because there were so many kids,” Quicksilver said. “We didn’t get as much one-on-one time with the kids. We didn’t get to ask them too much about their specific situations.”

Despite that, the instructors and the organizers from Child Focus said the session was a success.

“I think it was definitely a positive day,” Jeff Grandy of Child Focus said. “When T.J. was teaching them to physically defend themselves, he was framing it as giving them a skill set and teaching them how to use it responsibly. That was the message all the kids left with.”

The class will remain part of Child Focus’ Share and Discovery program, which is for siblings in foster care who live in different homes.

The program allows them to learn and to bond as a family despite their separation.

“We teach the skills as a family,” Grandy said “This is what separates Child Focus from other agencies that work with foster kids.”

For Quicksilver, teaching children how to cope with bullies isn’t just an academic exercise.

“I was bullied as a kid. I think most people were at some point,” he said. “My kids are 10 and 11, and they’re dealing with this now.”

Fear No Bully classes are offered to the public twice a week in one-hour sessions. Class fees are $99 a month, with a $50 annual registration fee.

For information about Las Vegas Movie Mastars Action & Entertainment Nexus and the Fear No Bully program, visit fearnobully.com or call 883-1171.

Contact Sunrise and Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at ataylor@viewnews.com or 380-4532.