DoSomething.org has joined up with the original Blue Ranger David Yost to stand against bullying for the You've Got The Power Campaign, and Yost took some time to talk to ComicBook.com all about it alongside DoSomething Marketing Manager Marissa Ranalli, including what fans can do to help when they see bullying first hand. The first step can be the hardest, and that is not being afraid to say something.
"It is called You've Got the Power, and for me, it is mostly about anti-bullying," Yost said. "It is an anti-bullying campaign and it is teaching kids and even us as adults to learn how to speak up against bullying. So often I think so many people see bullying or aren't sure if it is bullying but kind of have a feeling it is and they are afraid to do something about it. Especially when you are kid and you are still in that adolescent stage, you don't want to be like the one, the tattle-tale so to speak of the situation, but I think it is so crucial for kids to really learn that it is super important to step up, especially if you see something that is not right. People being picked on, people being made to feel bad about themselves when really it shouldn't be going on."
It's been ingrained in many to just mind your own business when those things happen, so it will take some retraining of sorts to step into a volatile situation. As Yost says though, it is an important process to undertake.
"It is sort of re-teaching people a new way of thinking about standing up and we want people to feel good about themselves, not to hate themselves," Yost said. "By You've Got the Power, you have the power to stand up, you have the power to not only stand up for yourself but for other people. You can actually change somebody's life, you can actually save somebody's life when you do step up."
Unfortunately for Yost, no one stepped up for him when he was younger, and there are so many other kids that undergo that same treatment. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, bullying affects 1 in 5 students in the U.S.
"Unfortunately throughout my life I can't say that anybody did stand up for me, and even knowing people, maybe they didn't stand up for me in the way that I wanted," Yost said. "Obviously, there were times when bullying was going on and often sometimes people were saying things behind my back and so that is the only time people would come to me and say, "Hey, I just want you to know that this person said this, that, and the other about you". So I am not sure if that is really standing up for me but it certainly alerted me to situations so I would hopefully be able to better cope with stuff that arises, but actually stepping up to the plate when things were going on? No, nobody has ever done that for me."
It can be difficult to know what to do when a bullying situation arises, even when it is in a public space with plenty of people around. The thing is it won't actually often take much on your part other than the initial step in, as NoBullying.com reports that bullying stops within 10 seconds of someone intervening. Crazily enough, 85% of the time no one actually does. Part of the You've Got The Power Campaign is asking for tactics that students have learned and used to beat bullying, and when you submit one you can win a $5000 scholarship. It's really a win-win right?
"The whole magic of teaming up with the Power Rangers in an Anti-bullying campaign is that the whole thing is about encouraging people to do what makes them happy and exploring new talents and believing in themselves. To go after these interests is something that this campaign is really speaking to," Ranalli said. "The fact that we are asking people how do they beat bullying? And it can be something like, I took karate or a playwriting class. I learned how to do double dutch, bake brownies, or whatever it is. There's a lot of cool, interesting unique interests and hobbies out there and different anti-bullying tactics out there. Even if you don't think it is like 'oh yes, I built up that confidence, that self-esteem through this avenue'".
The scholarship is nice, but all of these tactics will also be compiled into the largest peer-to-peer anti-bullying guide available, shared across the globe in a way that is for students and by students.
We asked Yost for a few of his tips to help those affected by bullying too.
"You want to be, at least from my perspective, sort of systematic on how you handle it," Yost said. "Because if somebody is being beat up and bloodied, you really have to figure out a way to defuse the situation without necessarily having the same thing happen to you. So if you see horrible bullying going on, in terms of physical, physical-ness, obviously the best thing to do would be to call 911 and then do your best to somehow pull focus off the situation."
"It is really about talking to people, it's about talking to people in a very calm matter and manner and often surprisingly that somehow does diffuse the situation," Yost continued. "It is just pulling that person's focus off the person that they are bullying, somehow, whether it is just in a verbal context that they are assaulting someone or physical. Figure out a way to just step in and say, "hey that's not cool". And say it to them in a very straight-forward, calm way. Because when you are calm, it makes them act calm."
Bullying isn't something that often gets talked about at a young age, as most are just willing to take their lumps, afraid to say something because they'll get diminished or made fun of in some way. Opening up that dialogue is important to changing things at the root.
"It's about helping kids learn to re-learn," Yost said. "So instead of being like me when I was a child, and being afraid, I think if we are just having conversations and open dialog with kids these days, about speaking up. Especially getting them when they are at such crucial ages, like starting from 7 on up. You know, that's the best thing. Like, back when I was growing up, we never talked about bullying. So when it was happening, I just really was unclear as to what to do. My natural instinct was that you should say something, but because I was the shortest kid in my class, and because I was small, and because I had been bullied in what other ways than what Allen was experiencing, I just had so much fear."
"So just talking about that fear with kids, and letting them express that fear is, like, when I see this, or when I hear this I am afraid to speak up, so are you sure? They might ask 'are you sure it's okay?' And the more you give the kids the right to own themselves and own their voice, the more confident I think they will be about speaking up and figuring out what the right thing to do is," Yost continued. "At school, obviously, you go to an administrator, or principal, a teacher. You find something on those levels. But there is always again, like I said, that fear of being the quote, unquote, tattletale. So we have to figure out a way to make kids know it's okay to be the tattletale."
Many fans have called Billy their favorite Ranger in the original show thanks to the character's metamorphosis throughout the seasons. Billy started out as someone plagued by bullies himself (thanks Bulk and Skull) but slowly learned to deal with them and gain confidence in himself. That character development was quite important to Yost during the show and led to Billy feeling like a more authentic character.
"I don't know that it was always the plan, but I, as an actor certainly, I became very conscious of it, very much in the first season that I was playing," Yost said. "They wanted me to play such a stereotypical nerd. And it was just a stereotype and it just didn't feel authentic to me and I really wanted to be sure that I was playing an authentic character and I knew I wanted to show my character grow."
"So I wanted to make sure that he had all the elements of being smart, but that he was able to talk with his friends," Yost said. "And we did see that over the 200 episodes that I did. Like he definitely grew and became very confident and challenged himself to always face his fears. So I am very proud to have played that character. "
The Power Rangers fanbase is a pretty awesome one, but we can always get better and lead a charge of truly making anyone feel included but also helping others to achieve their goals if at all possible.0comments
"What's great about the Power Ranger fandom is I think that so many of our fans are inclusive of a lot of people and embrace a lot of people's differences," Yost said. "So for me it's just like, I hear so many stories about how Power Rangers influence people's lives and we encourage people to take martial arts, or just encourage them to go after their dreams and just be confident in who they are and so that is always sort of what I want people to feel, that's what I want any of the fans of Power Rangers to feel. To never doubt themselves, whatsoever, and if they have something and they know it in their heart, that they should go after it. Believe in themselves no matter what. So I think that's what it comes down to for me."
Just remember, whether it's fighting against bullying or whatever challenge you may end up facing, you've got the power!