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Go to the Movies. Save a Life

This Friday you need to go to see the movie Bully.

You need to fill up the minivan, the truck, the car, the bus, walk, run, and just go to see the movie Bully.

You need to take your kids and your grand-kids and your nieces and nephews.  You need to take the church groups and the Little League team and the chess club and the Gay-Straight Alliance club and the scout troop.  You need to go if you’re a teacher or a parent or a coach or bus driver.

You need to go.  It’s that important.  Really.  That important.

The movie will be one of the most wrenching, unsettling, powerful, important films you may ever see.  The language in the movie is strong language.  It is the language of hate.  The situations are disturbing and not a manufactured creature of Hollywood.

The video is real made by an almost invisible photographer who simply follows the children and the adults in their lives with a small camera, capturing what is too often hidden.

Bully is game changing in the way we think about and act on childhood bullying.  What changes is the belief that bullying is simply a case of Kids Will Be Kids.  Children are dying, and this movie tells the truth we don’t want to hear, but must hear.

As a companion to the film, I suggest you also visit NEA.org/bullyfree.  Because the movie will starkly show the truth of bullying; it makes us aware, but we don’t want to stop there.  Awareness must lead to action.

Research shows that 93% of schools now have policies against bullying.  Fine.  Good.

But when those school employees were asked if they’ve ever received training on how to intervene in a bullying situation, only half say that they have ever received training on how to deal with bullying.

Which means most of us would turn to what our mothers told us when we experienced teasing or bullying when small.  My mom told me as I told my sons, “Just ignore them and they’ll go away.”

This is a big, fat Don’t.

When a child tells an adult about being bullied and hears “Just ignore them, and they’ll go away,” the message that is delivered is, “I’m just going to ignore you, and you’ll go away.”

The child is being told, “I don’t intend to help you; this isn’t serious; no biggy.”

And when a child can’t take it anymore and doesn’t think that any adult cares, that’s when a desperate child can resort to an act of desperation.  And even those children who don’t end up in a news story end up being tortured by the memory of being bullied for the rest of their lives.  No good comes from ignoring a bullied child.

So what are the Do’s?stop bullying

Do step in.
  It’s an adult’s place to intervene.  Bullying is not a childish game.

Do separate them.
  Don’t question children in front of each other.  The bully can be dangerous.  Bystanders may be intimidated.  Question children privately and separately and you’re more likely to get a more complete picture of what’s happening.

Do be calm and respectful
and model for the children the gravity of bullying and that you intend to get to the bottom of it and you intend to stop it.

Do tell the bullied child,
“I’m glad you told me about this.  This is very serious.  I am going to make sure no one hurts you.  No one deserves to be bullied.

The truth is, it is very hard to immediately stop a bully from bullying again.  But the bigger truth of this final Do is that the bullied child knows immediately that he or she is not alone.  You cannot imagine how powerful this is.  The bullied child hears, “Someone is going to help me.  Someone says I don’t deserve to be bullied.  I am not all by myself.”

A bully steals a piece of the victim’s soul.  If someone stole that child’s lunch money, there would be a dozen adults making sure the thief was caught and punished and the child was protected.  How much more valuable is a child’s soul?  How much greater a loss is that child’s self-respect, and sense of safety?  Shouldn’t a dozen adults be running to protect those treasures?

So go to the movies.  Take your friends and families and watch and become more aware than you might want to be about the children who need just one, caring adult in their lives.  But if you are the type of person to see such great need and say to yourself, “Wow.  Golly, that’s interesting.  Gee, thanks for letting me know.”  Then stay home.

If you’re the type of person who says, “I have to do something about this,” then come.  Fill up your hearts with these children.  And be moved to more than tears.  Be moved to act to save them.

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5 Comments

  1. janet joy says:

    The scars from physical injuries heal and fade with time. The psychological scars from bullying never heal completely and impact a child for life. It is the responsibility of all in education to step forward and stop this destruction of the human spirit. We have the power if we only have the courage to step forward. I witnessed it many times during my thirty-nine years of teaching. I did step forward and stopped it. The bully many times needed my help as much as the victim.

  2. Anne Marie Foerster Luu says:

    We, as educators, can weave issues of repect, civility, and peace into our every day classroom management, choice of materials, small group discussions, long-term projects, and personal behaviors. We can help children develop a culture of peace in which they can thrive. We don’t have to wait until the bullying begins. However, once it begins, we MUST be the allies the children need to overcome the challenges.

  3. We came to your blog after reding TeacherKen’s diary about it. You are right on target: “How much greater a loss is that child’s self-respect, and sense of safety? Shouldn’t a dozen adults be running to protect those treasures?”

    It’s a tragedy that in Gilbert, Arizona, a National Board Certified Teacher is being fired after reporting bulying and racial discrimination. The district preferred to sweep bullying under the rug, provoked the bully’s parents into filing a complaint against the teacher, and brought 20 charges against her. The superintendent was anxious to humiliate and intimidate, but now that the teacher has demanded a public hearing, the process has slowed to a stop.

    This teacher is a member of NEA; the local president betrayed this teacher, telling a board member she is a “great teacher, just not suitable for the Gilbert environment.” It makes you shudder to thing just what kind of a person is suitable for Gilbert Public Schools. Actually, the answer is demonstrated by this: not a single person in the administration lifted a finger to help the students who were victims of bullying.

    The story is online at WesternConnections.com — the website has become a resource for other teachers in the district, especially those who have been intimidated into not “seeing” bulling so they don’t have to report it, as required by state law.

  4. anon says:

    When I exercise outside, neighborhood kids bully me to show off in front of their friends; As a young woman nearing her late 20s-who already had to deal with being bullied at school- I’m tired of hearing children doing this. I don’t understand it either. They’re hanging out with their friends- why do they feel a need to make comments about adults who are walking alone? I’ve seen other adults walk alone, yet children don’t laugh or say anything about them.

    Even my teachers didn’t like my classmates; they kept telling me, “I wish I had more students like you,” because I was a studious, quiet person who didn’t cause trouble.

    I don’t think it’s appropriate for children to laugh whenever I walk or jog within their eyesight and say things like, “Sic her, girl!” to their dog or “Is that a girl or a boy?” just because I’m not wearing formal clothes and have a small bust.

    Now, I regret that I used to be fond of children and go out of my way to be polite and say, “Hi,” to them whenever I walked past them; I don’t see the appeal of having children, nor teaching them since so many of them disrespect me because I’m a small woman and assume that I’m their age. They’re not “cute”; they’re rude, arrogant, disrespectful, and vicious.

  5. [...] The new movie Bully has captured national attention and given a voice to youth pushed into the shadows and the families that fight for them. Join Lily, online activist Katie Butler, and Christie Marchese to discuss next steps in the Bully-Free movement. #BullyFree [...]

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