Thea Blair believes massage can be a powerful antidote to bullying in schools.
Peer massage, or massage of children by classmates on the upper body while clothed and with consent, is the topic of a documentary film Blair, an educator, plans to shoot in England in January.
She has established a page on the fundraising site www.indiegogo.com to try to meet her goal of raising $8,000.
Blair noted that peer massage “is gaining recognition in Europe for anti-bullying and social inclusion.” Massage in the classroom began in Sweden and is largely credited to Hans Axelson, who took massage into classrooms there, and is practiced in England.
Blair will focus her camera on the organization Child 2 Child, which teaches a “short daily massage routine for the hand or the back or back, head and shoulders, which helps to build up emotional resilience and ‘feel good’ factor in children,” according to the group’s website.
“Peer massage has an immediate and positive influence on children’s physical, psychological and social development,” noted seated-massage pioneer and educator David Palmer, in an email he sent to garner support for Blair’s project. “Classroom dynamics are forever transformed as kids discover how to relax and connect through appropriate touch.” Peer massage is peace-making at its most fundamental level, Palmer added.
“Bullying can no longer be dismissed as child’s play,” noted the website of the (U.S.) National Education Association. “More pervasive and lethal today than in the past, bullying exacts a terrible toll on the overall school community— targets, perpetrators, and bystanders—robbing students of their opportunities to learn and inflicting emotional scars that can last a lifetime.”
According to the NEA, bullying is on the rise throughout the U.S., and “school bullying and cyberbullying statistics show that 77 percent of students are bullied mentally,
verbally, and physically and that one out of five
students admits to doing some bullying.”