In no way is this post intended to be a review of bullying research or strategies to deal with bullying. It is only a heart-filled post of someone who saw a documentary that makes you think, feel, and makes you want the world to change.
Last week my husband tells me he saw this great documentary on Netflix that shook is soul and that I needed to watch it. So we both did. I am talking about the film Bully, a documentary by Lee Hirsch, that takes you on an emotional journey of the lives of those affected by bullying. The kids, the parents, the friends, the community.
It is almost impossible to watch without experiencing strong emotions that make you question how the world has got to the place it is. A place where children can be so cruel to other children. A place where parents have such a hard time protecting their children from terrible things. A place where schools have such a hard time dealing with the bullies and the bullied. You think to yourself how you would never allow this to happen to your kids, to your students. But, you also don’t know what the best way to help is. Bullying is such a complex social issue that it is hard to even know how to encourage children to protect themselves. Should they call the adults? Then, there is a risk that the bullying will increase. Should they stand up for themselves? Then, there is a chance that they themselves become the aggressor. It just makes you think that parents and schools need to step up their games if they want children to grow up in a healthier social-emotional environment.
Schools should be staffed with more professionals that can work with children and youth on social-emotional skills. Children should be taught good social skills. Healthy friendships and groups should be encouraged. Kids with problematic behaviors should have access to appropriate services, not only at school, but at home, as well.
We live in a world where parents teach their kids that they need to be tough. They need to be the strongest in order to survive in this world. They prefer their children to stand up for themselves, even if that means being mean, aggressive and scary, than to be the “weak” one. If there was one thing that kept coming to my mind while watching this documentary it was: “if I even suspect that my child is not being friendly, nonetheless bullying someone, there will have to be some serious consequences. I do not want my child to think that doing something like that is ok. I don’t want them growing up thinking that if they are meaner and stronger, they will get what they want. I want my child to live with principles of respect, friendship, and love. I want the world to be a place where people can be who they are and can all respect each other. I want a world where you can feel that you are respected by others and that you can be happy.
We live in a society. We live in a world where you should not be constantly afraid of others. Others that are like you, others that are different from you. I feel like I have said this many times in the short life of this blog, but change can only happen one person at a time. If you take charge of your life, of your family and I take charge of mine… well, that’s two more families positively contributing to the world. And if more people do the same… so many great things can happen! The Bully Project is an example of how someone’s pain, someone’s loss, someone’s willingness to make the world a better place, allied with a couple of other people who feel the same way, can start something bigger.
So, let’s make some change. Let’s make the world a better place. Today.