On April 15th I have the opportunity to see an exclusive screening of this new movie/documentary called Bully. The trailer for the movie is brutal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G114cy-fnAw&feature=related
I have signed up to see it that day.
And I have mixed feelings.
Mixed feelings for several reasons:
- it discusses young adult suicide. An important issue, a sad issue, a real issue … an issue I have personally faced with a friend … and I am not sure I am up to sitting through a movie and refacing it.
- my readers know how I feel about young adults and I know how cruel young adults can be and I am not sure a movie will remind me any more than I already know
- I had a bully moment in middle school, not proud of it, and it pains me to even type it … so seeing a movie about it seems exponentially more painful.
Maybe it’s the last point that makes me hesitate the most.
It was not my finest moment.
A bunch of us seriously bullied a weaker boy.
We pushed him around. We made him miserable. We said incredibly mean things. We spit on him for god’s sake.
We humiliated him.
Today? I am humiliated at myself just thinking about it.
At the time? I don’t know if I was that humiliated.
His mother called all our mothers. I don’t know about the other guys but my mother made me feel pretty miserable. But, frankly, I think it was more miserable because I was paying for it through having things taken away and not because I had been a bully.
Honestly <at that time> I thought he was a wimp. It was confirmation he wasn’t tough. That he wasn’t a real guy. He told on us.
That’s the truth.
And I am not proud of it. And I kind of think it is not unusual.
But it is also a fact that makes me feel miserable <even a little upset> thinking that I could even think those thoughts.
Yes. Kids can be cruel. Especially as they ‘fight’ for status and finding their own self esteem … all within a yet-to-be-contructed self character.
And while boys will be boys (and girls can be just as cruel in a different ways) I don’t think it’s an excuse to not try and do something about it. Or at least talk about it.
And beyond the face-t0-face bullying … the internet has brought an entirely new level to bullying.
Or maybe a new level of bully. In my youth you had to actually be a bully. Or you weren’t. Today? You can be a faceless bully. And that is actually being a coward. I am not saying the bully that I was is a ‘good’ bully. Its just people could see what I did with my little pack of ‘bullies’ and, ultimately, we faced repercussions. Those repercussions absolutely made me think about my actions. And, inevitably, they impacted my future actions (for the better thank god).
Faceless bullying is being a coward. And I believe children need to understand, for good or for bad, that they need to take responsibility for their actions. And in that responsibility they will learn that some things are just not acceptable.
In no way should I have participated in what happened with that kid I went to school with. Absolutely unacceptable.
But. The repercussions of what I participated in certainly drew a line in the sand for me. Maybe it was just a wake up call. I don’t know.
Whew. This is a hard one to write about. I don’t want anyone to think I am justifying my actions, or the actions of any bully, all I know is that being caught meant I changed in some way. If I hadn’t been caught … well … geez … I don’t know. I am sure <or at least I would like to hope> that I would have found ‘the right thing to do’ aspect of my character but at that point in time the only jury I was facing was a jury of peers.
Regardless. All I know now for sure, now that I just reread it, is that ALL bullying is cowardly.
I am not sure a movie will make a real difference other than maybe people will talk about it.
- Parents’ perception of their child. I am fairly sure my parents almost fainted dead away with surprise that I was part of any bullying. Parents don’t see their kids in real life kids situations. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes.
Surprisingly Skilled: “In contrast to the popular notion that bullies lack social skills, research has shown that bullies are actually quite adept at reading social cues and perspective-taking. Rather than using these skills prosocially, such as to empathize with others, they instead use them to identify and prey on peer vulnerabilities. All data point in the same direction … that bullies have no problem with self-esteem. – Dan Olweus, 2002 OSDFS National Technical Assistance Meeting
They don’t have to be the biggest or loudest or whateverest. My parents would never have even thought to bring me to a movie like this (and, yet, it may have made a difference).
- Parents perception of what is right. I am fairly sure several of the boys in this bullying ‘pack’ did not have the same conversation with their parents that I had with mine. Oftentimes kids are reflection of their parents … and that includes their insecurities and flaws. It is accepted, or at least acceptable, behavior. Some parents would never think to bring their kid to a movie like this (and, yet, it may make a difference)
Making the movie cannot hurt. And people should talk. And people should probably understand that bullying is more likely indicative of some other underlying issue than it is simply a behavior action.
All that said, while I may not attend the movie, here are some things to think about.
Bullying numbers vary. In fact they are all over the place. And while stories of radical incidences of school violence <school shootings> shown in the media may seem frequent extreme forms of school violence are rare. And studies show that the occurrence of school violence has been declining since the early 1990s.
Still, school violence<bullying>, in whatever form, is a problem that can leave lasting negative effects on a child or young adult. Those with the highest risk of becoming victims of school violence are between the ages of 12 and 24.
Studies show that each year one in 12 teens in high school is threatened or injured with a weapon. Beyond physical damage, victims, instigators, or witnesses of school violence may develop psychological problems including depression, anxiety, and immobilizing fear.
Common indicators of school violence include victimization, verbal harassment, classroom disorder, coercion, criminality, and physical assault.
Bullying is the most common experience for many children and adolescents.
Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and at least 10% are bullied on a regular basis (source: The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry).
Let’s be clear.
Bullying isn’t always physical. While boys tend to use physical intimidation or threats, girls tend to use verbal intimidation, threats & slurs … usually with another girl as the target.
And the web is creating an entirely new bullying world.
- Nine out of ten middle school students have had their feelings hurt online.
- About 75% have visited a Web site bashing another student.
- Four out of ten middle school students have had their password(s) stolen and changed by a bully who then locked them out of their own account or sent communications posing as them.
- About 21% of kids have received mean or threatening e-mails.
- About 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than four out of ten say it has happened more than once.
Source: Cyber Bullying Facts http://www.dosomething.org/
The psychological and emotional outcomes of cyber bullying are similar to real-life bullying outcomes, except for the reality that with cyber bullying there is often no escape.
School ends at 3 p.m. The Internet is available all the time.
I found this written by a teen which I wanted to share:
- WHAT I THINK ABOUT ALL OF THIS. Telling someone to die, go to hell, etc., via the internet or any other medium is NEVER ok. EVER. I don’t care what they did, you’re either going to make them want to continue with what they were doing, or cause them to lose it. It doesn’t matter in the words are spoken or typed. It’s at least just as painful over the internet, if not more so. Are you mad? Are you about to say something that you don’t really mean, but there’s a chance the person you intend to tell it to will take it seriously? DON’T TYPE IT. Cool your head, organize your thoughts, then please make a coherent post explaining why you don’t agree with someone or why you think that they were wrong. Spewing anger leads to more people being upset and solves NOTHING. People, think before you type. Because guess what? That person you’re about to hate on, anon or not, they’re a REAL PERSON. Not just another page on the internet. Let’s stand together everyone and fight for this.
I am not naïve enough to believe we can completely stop bullying. Bullying will continue as long as children want to show they are able to bully for whatever reason they want to show. For some kids I believe bullying is the only place where they can realize some real power in, and over, life. Maybe they have external issues that they believe they can finally intimidate others the way people intimidate them. Maybe, to them, bullying is a pleasure, maybe it is “serious joking around”, maybe it some aspect of self actualization and maybe even it is a thoughtless hobby-like behavior.
And maybe bullying is to prove something to themselves that they do not get at home.
Maybe they find it fun to be hurting a vulnerable person who is different.
But I believe limits can be drawn. And I believe they can be drawn by kids themselves … and empowered to manage those limits.
Maybe this is where discussion really helps.
- 49 percent said they tried to help in some way.
- 29 percent said they did nothing, but thought that they should try to help
- 22 percent said they would not help because it was none of their business.
- A full third of the young people in this study indicated that they could see why bullying happened, which seems to suggest that they, at some level, accept and/or condone bullying behavior among their peers.
And, in another study by Whitney and Smith (1993), 18 percent of the participating middle and high school students said that they would join in if their friends were bullying someone.
This is going to sound harsh, but, the one who is being bullied probably cannot stop it … for a variety of reasons … and I don’t mean to make them sound helpless but it is partially out of their hands. But others can do something.
I could have stopped the bullying of that one kid. But I didn’t. And that is something I know I bear with me even today. And, frankly, I am not the important one in this discussion … I was not the one bullied.
I should have stopped. And done something to stop it.
Would I have lost friends? Maybe.
Would it have been the right thing to do? Yes.