|Courtesy of the movie “Bully” and Weinstein Films|
I got teased and picked on in high school. Sometimes it was for my weight, sometimes it was because I did something stupid and then I was also picked on for just being me. As bad as those memories are, they aren’t nearly as bad as the times I picked on others. I’m ashamed to admit that there were times I egged people’s cars or houses for no specific reason. There were times I ignored, put down or even slandered people I considered “friends”. Was I really a bully?
If you asked me a week ago, I would have said, “No, I just liked to goof around and at times I went a little too far.” However, after watching Lee Hirch’s new documentary Bully (For the movie website click here), I realized that I wasn’t just the victim; but, the cause of bullying in my school.
Not sure how much you face or deal with bullying in your community; but, I believe this movie is going to help all of us face and fight this overlooked problem. In fact I strongly recommend that all of the parents, teenagers and ministers you know should go and see this movie. Why? Because:
- Over 13 Million Kids Have Been Bullied – My guess is that many of your teens have been bullied, the question might be who, where and when. It’s an easy problem to overlook because bullying isn’t always physical. In fact the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” is one big lie. (The source for 13 million can be found here on pg 5). In fact bullying doesn’t just happen in the schools or online, chances are it could be in your ministry.
- It’s A Quiet Epidemic – Most times we don’t learn about bullying until it’s too late. Alex, one of the movies subjects, has a hard time telling his parents what’s really going on. His parents are somewhat aware that he is being picked on; however, because of his embarrassment and fear of getting in trouble he holds back the truth. The movie shows that victims aren’t always believed or willing to share the pain that they are suffering. It’s a problem that can cause isolation, which can be deadly.
- It’s Consequences Are Great – It’s almost easy to believe that the consequence of bullying is a bruised arm or a busted ego; unfortunately, it goes deeper. According to the CDC 4,400 teenagers commit suicide each year, which makes it the third leading cause of death. Bully victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide than non victims. But, the pain doesn’t stop there, as the movie Bully shows, the consequences reach into the lives of the victims family, friends and community. (All stats are from this source)
- It’s A Wake Up Call – As I mentioned before this film helped me realize my wrong doings as a teen. As much as I would like to call up the people I terrorized during my teenager years, I’ve lost track of many who are out there. Maybe you weren’t a bully, but were a victim, this is your chance to help those who are affected. No matter how you look at it, bullying is something that many of us have ignored for years.
- It’s An Issue We All Need To Work On Together – It’s a problem that affects us all; therefore, we all need to be on board. Parents need to know whether their child is being victimized or causing others pain. Educators (that includes us) need to know the line between bullying and just being a teen. And, teenagers need to know how to speak up and how to stop. Together it’s a problem that can be solved.
I could go on about why you, your parents, teens and ministers need to see Bully; but, really do you need more than one. As youth workers we are supposed to encourage teens to fight injustice and this is one that effects them all. Chances are that the majority of your teens are either victims, bullies, or know someone who is affected. It’s something I think we all have to acknowledge, something we all need to face, because whether or not you are willing to admit it, bullying is happening in the community in which you serve.
If you’ve seen Bully, please share your thoughts and comments about the movie.
Are you taking a proactive approach to bullying, if so what are you doing?