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So if you read yesterday's post, you would have noticed that bullying has been on my mind lately. I'd like to thank Shane Koyczan for that -- sincerely. After seeing his work and also after seeing some friends who posted about watching the film Bully with their kids (Thanks, Di and Ryan), I decided that I needed to check out the documentary for myself.
I must admit that the movie disgusted me on so many levels. First and foremost, I was disgusted by the way that some students treated others. As a high school teacher, I haven't seen much of this -- not in this form. I've thought long and hard about my teaching career and I don't believe I've witnessed this, let alone let it slide. The documentary centers around several different kids of different ages who all were bullied in some form. Two of the "strands" focused on families dealing with the aftermath of a child who committed suicide as a result of the bullying he endured. In addition, the documentary creates a villain in one Middle School's Assistant Principal, Mrs. Kim Lockwood.
There's not a doubt in my mind that much of what I saw could have been taken out of context in the editing process, so there's a part of me that wants to hold back. But I'm telling you that there's not a doubt in my mind that this woman should not still have her job after seeing the way she acted toward both students and parents. I was flat out appalled. I highly encourage you to check the documentary out and see if perhaps I'm overreacting in this case.
I also wasn't exactly sure where the boundary line was for the filmmakers. This has to be tough, I'm sure, but at what point do you, as an adult, put the damn camera down and take a stand against some little 15 year old punk who's continually stabbing another with a pencil while riding the bus??? After the second time? The third? The fifteenth??? I'm just really not sure that the filmmakers were completely responsible, either (although, in fairness, they did finally take their "tape" to the parents and to the school as well as evidence of what was going on). In what infuriated me to no end, Lockwood, after seeing this footage, told the victim's parents that she had been on that specific bus before and that the kids on it were "good as gold." Ugh...
The film is powerful enough that it needs to be seen and it needs to be discussed -- in schools, but also at home. It needs to be watched as a family and discussions need to stem from it. Bullying, whether physical, emotional or through social media -- which is the way I truly think it's occurring at the high school level -- has to be stopped. And I'm not sure where to begin.
As an elementary student I went to many different schools. I know what it feels like to be the new kid, to be different, to not be from there. I also know what it feels like to be picked on. Later on, at the high school level, I was no angel -- I was an ass at times and wanted to impress my friends. I picked on many good people. I thought I was being funny, but many times I was cruel. I'm truly, truly sorry.
I'm fortunate to be able to embrace teachable moments in my classes. In Mass Media and Communications I we are currently working on how to properly conduct an interview, create a lead from said interview and then transition in to the actual article. We are between issues with the more advanced students. We've watched the documentary together over the past two days and will be conducting a "press conference" with a student who did her Senior Project on bullying. They've developed questions for her based upon their viewing of the film and the topic of her Project. They'll be able to create articles based upon her research.
More importantly, I'm hoping that just one is able to figure out a way to put a stop to this.