Former Cosmo gives positive anti-bullying messages

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Josh Drean speaks to students at Lehi Junior High School. Photo courtesy of Josh Drean
Josh Drean speaks to students at Lehi Junior High School. (Photo courtesy Josh Drean)

A BYU alumnus and former Cosmo is touring Utah schools delivering anti-bullying messages in a positive manner.

Former mascot Josh Drean graduated from BYU with a degree in organizational psychology. Drean said his drive to stop bullying was fueled by his time as Cosmo. Drean was frustrated by the bullying he saw while visiting elementary schools dressed as Cosmo. He said he could not properly stop the bullying because of the mascot code of not talking. He also could not stop the bullying he was the recipient of when dressed as Cosmo by the elementary school students

“Kids see you and realize you’re just a giant, stuffed teddy bear,” Drean said.

Drean started his career in the tri-state area. He partnered with the New York public libraries to give parents seminars on how to stop bullying in the home. The seminars were based purely on research. The program was well received, Drean said.

“Bullying starts and stops in the home,” Drean said. “If we help the parents, then we can help the kids.”

Drean has five different anti-bullying programs. Each program is for a different age group. They are all part of his Defeat Bullying Positively tour, when he speaks to elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, parents, teachers and college students.

Josh Drean involves student at Harvest Elementary School in Saratoga Springs, Utah. Photo courtesy of Josh Drean.
Josh Drean involves students at Harvest Elementary School in Saratoga Springs, Utah. (Photo courtesy Josh Drean)

Drean’s programs use positive techniques to spread the anti-bullying message. Drean’s research in psychology has taught him that the most effective way to reach students is through positive emotions rather than scare tactics.

“They will be inspired, rather than scared, to change,” Drean said in a prepared statement Sept. 9.

The program is based on a whole school model. Drean speaks to the school to get the school started on the program. He supplies anti-bullying materials and teaches teachers and parents how to continue anti-bullying education. The program has been successful in many schools. Drean said students have talked about his assembly up to a year after he visited their school.

“It can be hard to engage kids and get them to open up. (Drean) did that within the first five to seven minutes,” said Kara Santucci, bully prevention specialist at Child Abuse Prevention Services in Great Neck, New York, in a prepared statement Sept. 9.

Drean is on the last week of his Utah tour. He said this tour has been his favorite so far. Born and raised in Utah, Drean said fellow Utahns get his humor a little better. The schools he has visited have been very respectful. There is also a personal tie-in with Cosmo that is not present on the East Coast.

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