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.”
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?
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.