The INJJA Program

In Author/Survivor Jodee Blanco’s Own Words

My in-school program entitled It’s NOT Just Joking Around!™ (INJJA) is divided into two parts: the program’s core component which is a day-long series of live presentations for students, faculty and parents; and an optional follow-up curriculum to keep the message of tolerance and compassion alive the rest of the school year.

Part One-Live Presentations-The Core of the INJJA Program

The day-long speaking series includes student presentations (age appropriate divided by elementary, middle and high school), a faculty workshop, and a parent/family seminar in the evening. I can tailor a program for a school too, doing whatever number or combination of presentations you’d like.  I’m very flexible!

Typically, the fees for Part One range anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 per talk depending upon the number of talks I’m asked to give. The more presentations I do, the less I charge per presentation as my time is being maximized in a market. Often, an entire diocese or several schools within a diocese will join forces to bring me in, sharing in the costs, and because I’m there for a couple days or more, and am doing multiple talks each day, I can offer a package rate.

Usually, here’s how the schedule breaks down.  I’ll do all the student presentations first, then a diocesan wide faculty workshop (or for individual schools), and on the last night, one great big parent/family seminar event for everyone.  If it’s just one school that wishes to bring me in, it’s no problem.  I speak at individual schools all the time.  It boils down to what you want, and from there we make it work. The process is fluid and flexible and I always try hard to respect a school’s budget and logistical needs.   Additionally, I offer schools the option of hosting a book signing at the parent and faculty events as a school fundraiser, with ALL profits going directly to the school.  My publishers would work with you on that.  We do this often and schools always love it because it helps to defer the cost of bringing me in.

It’s easiest if we chat via phone.  Once I get an idea of how many talks we’re looking at, we can come up with a fee that you’re comfortable with.  Outlined below is a breakdown of each talk.


Student Presentation(s)

The student presentations are age-appropriate and divided as follows:
K-4     (45 minutes)
6-8     (90 minutes including Q&A)
9-12    (90 minutes including Q&A)

Fifth graders can attend the elementary or middle school presentation.  It’s up to the discretion of the school which one they feel would be better suited for their particular fifth grade class.  Some schools are already experiencing pronounced, sophisticated forms of bullying at the fifth grade level and feel their fifth graders need a stronger, “big kid” approach.  Others are more comfortable with their fifth graders attending the elementary school presentation, which communicates the same basic message, but more softly and simply with lots of audio and visual prompts. It all depends upon the level of bullying in fifth grade at each particular school and what administration thinks will have the strongest impact.

The Elementary School Presentation

This presentation is engaging and whimsical, and captures the attention of little ones through imaginative audio and visual cues (no special equipment is needed-Iuse theatrical techniques to keep them focused and involved from start to finish).  It’s interactive and allows students and teachers to participate.  I teach little ones about compassion for the bully, forgiveness, and how to stand up for themselves with kindness and respect.  I show them how “tattling hurts and telling helps,” explaining the difference between, “tattling” (which is anger motivated) and “telling” (which is compassionate because it helps the bully and the victim both get the support they need).  Students learn about eye contact, the power of a sincere sorry, the importance of honesty, what a true friend is and isn’t and how to distinguish the two.  I also review step by step what to do if someone bullies you and why.  I teach them how to “turn their compassion on and turn their anger off.” Through singing, role-playing, games and a fresh approach to understanding why bullies bully and how to help everyone, my objective is to inspire their hearts and open their minds, using presentation methods that are fun, moving, and memorable.

The Middle and High School Presentation

I relive painful episodes from my past in front of the students so that they can witness firsthand what I endured at the hands of my peers.  It’s emotional and intense and allows the audience to live inside the heart and head of the bullying victim.  My primary message to students is three fold: bullying is not just joking around, it damages you for life; bullying just isn’t the mean things you do, it’s all the nice things you never do; and if you’re being bullied or shunned, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s everything that’s right about you that makes you a target, and you shouldn’t change for anyone, it is those who put you down who need to change.  In addition to the re-enactment of my school days, during which that tri-tiered message is continually reinforced, I also give students specific advice on how to handle what I call “elite tormentors,” the mean members of the cool crowd.   I conclude the student presentation with an empathy exercise that brings my anti-bullying message home on a visceral and deeply personal level.

After each presentation(s), I make myself available to do one-on-one sessions with any students who wish to speak with me. Typically, those students will include victims who want a sympathetic ear and “elite tormentors” who never realized they were cruel until they heard my talk, and now want my advice on how to make amends to their victims.

After-School Teacher Workshop

What makes this workshop so fresh and different is that everything is from the student’s point of view.  I take teachers and administrators inside the heart and mind of the victim, the bully and the bystander, from their singular perspectives.

The presentation includes: what you should never say to a bullied child and why; what you should say and do; the difference between authority and emotional credibility and  how it can make or break a child’s ability to trust in you;  how the bully and the victim are flipsides of the same coin and how to assist both; the two types of bullied students; the two types of popular students; the typical profile of the bullied child; how to intervene with a bullied child and/or a bully one-on-one; how to intervene in a group bullying situation; the single biggest mistake parents and teachers make when dealing with a bullied child that can often lead to suicide and how to avoid it; how to “think like a kid” instead of a “grown-up” and apply this skill to save a young life; a creative new approach to helping kids absorb academic lessons and ace homework that cleverly incorporates anti-bullying and other life lessons that teachers can easily put into practice; why traditional punishment doesn’t always work and how to supplement it with more enlightened forms of discipline that are “compassion-centric”; how parents and teachers can work together effectively and productively when dealing with a difficult child; among other strategies and solutions.

I also share deeply personal insights such as: the worst mistakes my teachers made and how I wish they would have handled things differently; the most common complaints I hear from bullied students today, and what they want their teachers to know but don’t have the courage to tell them.  At the end of this workshop, teachers, counselors and any adult working at the school, will have concrete knowledge about what to do to help both the bullies and the victims and how to inspire bystanders.  They will have scripted verbiage, specific strategies, creative suggestions, and other valuable tools that only someone who was bullied and survived, and who is working with thousands of other children going through what she once did, could provide.  This is an honest and exciting workshop that not only informs participants, but also celebrates their energy and commitment to youth.

Evening Parent/Family Seminar (Kids Encouraged to Attend!)

The Parent/Family seminar is an enlightening interactive workshop for parents and their children.  It deepens their understanding of each other and actively improves the way in which they communicate.  I take parents back in time to my school years, and help them reconnect with that part of their own past so they can better relate to their children’s experiences in the here and now.  Then, engaging the assistance of all the kids in the audience, we walk the parents through the typical clichés adults use on bullied kids and why they don’t work. Kids love being able to teach their parents, and you can see the bond between parent and child strengthening in the room.  It’s palpable.  Then I offer fresh and effective alternatives to those clichés.

I describe the warning signs a child may be a bully or a victim, how to intervene successfully, how to deal with the parents of the bullies and/or victims, how to work productively with the school, why some children are targeted by bullies more than others, how to spot the warning signs a child may be suicidal due to bullying or may be contemplating violence, how to help that child create an interim social life until issues at school can be resolved, and other critical information.
I also share deeply personal insights about the mistakes my own parents made and how to avoid them, as well as what my parents did that helped and why.
Note on the Parent/Family Seminar: it isn’t only parents who attend this seminar-often Adult Survivors of Peer Abuse who live in the community will attend-many of them can be wonderful resources in the school district’s anti-bullying efforts.