I watched the documentary 'Bully' last night on Netflix (www.thebullyproject.com if you want to check it out). I'd been wanting to watch it for quite awhile, but finally did. It is a powerful movie, and it rocked me to the core. I was at or near tears throughout much of the movie. Watching how cruel kids can be to one another, and the emotional and physical anguish of the kids being bullied. It just breaks my heart. One of the kids being bullied in the movie is Alex Libby. You could just tell all he wanted was to make friends, but instead he was picked on, called names, hit, slapped, punched, stabbed with pencils, threatened - all on the school bus he rode on every day. He looked emotionless, almost numb to it all. He was afraid speaking up would bring more trouble for him. Another girl was shunned, and her family made outcasts even among former friends of theirs, simply because she came out as a lesbian. Yet another, only 11 years old, committed suicide because he just couldn't take it anymore. Another older child hung himself in a closet because he had simply had enough. A girl named Ja'Meya took her mother's gun onto the school bus she rode on and used it to threaten those that were bullying her. How does this happen? How do these children get pushed to the point of breaking? And why isn't something being done about it? It's a very complex issue, true enough. But I hope and pray that each of us can make a difference in the future to put a stop to this type of thing.
Anyone who says bullying is not a real problem in our society is kidding themselves. The pain that these kids go through is unparalleled. I know that when I was in school, bullying existed. I confess to you today that in some cases, I was the bully. If you're reading this and I bullied you at all, I sincerely, wholeheartedly apologize. Maybe it's too little too late, but I was also on the other end of it, being bullied, so I do know how it feels. I don't think it was as extreme back then as it is today. Maybe that's naive. But it just seems with the internet, social networking websites, etc, it's just much easier for kids to put things out there and click send/post without having any consequences to deal with.
I am by nature a worrier. When the day came to take Will to preschool, I was probably more anxious than anyone. Up to that point he had been, and still is for the most part, at the age where kids all get along and play nicely together. The age of innocence comes and goes so quickly. I didn't ride a school bus when I was in school, I walked. Even before I watched this documentary, I cringed at the thought of having to put Will on a school bus. What kinds of things will he hear and see? Will he be bullied? Will he be a bully? I know I can't shelter him for the rest of his life, but man it's going to be tough to let him go little by little. He's only three now, and he almost always wants Leigh and I around. He showers us with hugs and kisses and tells us he loves us. I know that may not last forever. I want to protect him, but I have to let him live his life when that time comes. Obviously, it will be awhile before I really have to think about it. But this movie provoked many thoughts in my mind. How can children be so cruel to one another? And how do adults either remain completely unaware of it, or see it happening and do nothing about it?
If you are a student and see someone being bullied at your school, do not remain silent. Stand up. If you are employed somewhere and see bullying going on at your workplace, stand up. In your neighborhood, walking down any street at any time, on any social networking site you frequent (facebook, twitter, google+, etc, etc), no matter where you are or what you are doing - if you see someone being bullied, please do not be silent. Tell someone. Help someone. It could be the difference, literally, between life and death.
And if you are being bullied, please talk to a parent, a teacher or guidance counselor, a friend - just talk to someone. It is unacceptable that you are being treated this way and it needs to be put to an end in an appropriate manner. If you are reading this, and you are being bullied, talk to me. I'm listening. You matter. It can end. It starts by speaking up. You CAN do it.
Have you experienced bullying? Have you witnessed bullying? Tell me about it. This is a real issue.