Is your kid reluctant to go to school every day? Does he/she feign illness at times?
Do you find missing school stuff, broken pencils or damaged school items?
Does your child come home always hungry or always asking you for more pocket money?
Watch out because your child might be the victim of bullying in school.
I was always told, in my younger days: “Sticks and stones can hurt my bones but words will never hurt me”. Never has a cliche been so wrong because spiteful words CAN hurt. Glaring looks can hurt. Destruction of one’s property can hurt. A person’s self-esteem can be impaired for life.
Bullying has long existed but I think it has gotten worse, judging from the growing number of bullying-related suicides whose victims are growing younger and younger. What makes matters worse, I think, is the almost dismissive, non-serious attention given to reported bullying incidents. Guidance counselors in schools don’t seem trained to handle these kinds of situations.
“Boys will be boys” (Bullying is NOT normal boys’ play)
“Just tell your child to avoid the bully” (You can’t avoid a bully who chooses to come up to you even if you try to stay away)
“Don’t worry. I will speak with him/her (the bully)” (Most times this strategy doesn’t really resolve the issue and the bullying sometimes gets even worse.)
Bullying is a reflection, I think, of the ills of society. The bully himself is a victim. Oftentimes, he is bullied at home and his only outlet is to turn into one himself with hapless victims in school. But of course, the real victims are the bullied children. Oftentimes, they choose to keep this to themselves, ashamed to let others know they are being subjected to abuse and harassment daily in school. Parents are oftentimes the last to know. And in some cases, the only time they find out is when their child takes the ultimate escape from the torture – suicide.
Well, I am finally happy that bullying in schools is getting its well-deserved attention with an anti-bullying campaign that is about to go nationwide and I hope it is eventually going to be nipped for good.
“Bully” the Movie
The Jesuit Basic Education Commission (JBEC) in cooperation with Solar Entertainment, is bringing in an acclaimed documentary film ”Bully” to the Philippines. The film features actual experiences of bully victims in high schools in Georgia, Iowa, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Two of the boys featured, Tyler Long and Ty Smalley), committed suicide after enduring taunts and physical assault.
A by-invitation premiere of “Bully” will happen at Robinsons Galleria Cinema 4 on November 13, 2012 at 6:30pm. That will be followed by a theatrical run, also in November, through several Saturday block screenings in Robinsons Galleria for schools that want to show the film for their communities. Campus screenings can also be arranged for a minimal fee. Teachers and parents will be provided with discussion guides to properly process the movie’s message.
Directed by Sundance and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, Bully documents the real stories of 5 bullied kids and their families. Filmed over the course of schoolyears 2009/2010, Bully shows us the painful experiences of bullied American kids, revealing problems that cross geographical, racial, ethnic and economic borders. The movie also shows how the affected parents began a growing movement to change how incidents of bullying are handled in their schools, communities and society as a whole.
Here are summaries of the 5 bullying stories as taken from the movie’s production notes:
For 12-year-old Alex of Sioux City, Iowa, the slurs, curses and threats begin before he even
boards the school bus. A sweet-natured kid just starting middle school and wanting more than
anything to fit in, Alex assures his worried parents that the kids who taunt and hit him are only
“messing with him.” But bullying has trailed Alex thorough life like a shadow, and as his
seventh grade year unfolds, the bullying only escalates.
Since 16-year-old Kelby came out as a lesbian, she and her family have been treated as pariahs in
their small town of Tuttle, Oklahoma. The onetime all-star athlete, Kelby has faced an
outpouring of hatred from classmates as well as teachers, and has been forced to leave her sports
teams by attacks. Refusing her parents’ offers to leave Tuttle, the gutsy teenager is bolstered by
her adoring girlfriend and a few staunch friends, resolving to stay in her town and change a few
In Yazoo County, Mississippi, 14-year-old Ja’Meya was picked on every morning and afternoon
of the hour-long bus ride between home and school. On the morning of September 1st, the quiet,
unassuming girl had had enough and brandished a loaded handgun she’d taken from her mother’s
closet to scare off her tormentors. Incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility and charged with
multiple felony coloving mother.
David and Tina Long
In October 2009, 17-year-old Tyler Long of Murray County, Georgia, hanged himself after years
of abuse at the hands of his classmates and indifference from school officials. As his parents,
David and Tina Long, mourn the loss of the son they tried to protect, and demand accountability
from the school that failed him so miserably, his death has sparked a war in a community forced
to face its bullying demons.
Kirk and Laura Smalley
Following the bullying-related suicide of their 11 year-old son, Kirk and Laura Smalley are
determined to prevent other children from suffering Ty’s fate. As schools around the country
prepare for the start of a new academic year, Kirk launches an anti-bullying organization, Stand
for the Silent, coordinating a series of vigils that underscore the high stakes of America’s
“Not in Our School” Campaign Launches
Taking inspiration from the growing anti-bullying movement, JBEC is also using this documentary to launch its own anti-bullying campaign, “Not in Our School” and Xavier School is leading the pack in the campaign.
This campaign is aligned with DepEd’s Child Protection Policy which seeks to defend any student from all forms of abuse, including bullying. Fr Johnny Go, SJ, JBEC Chair, hopes that this campaign spurs schools to proactively take a stand against bullying so that every school becomes a nurturing, bully-free one. Fr. Johnny says: “We hope this movie can reach as wide an audience as possible, especially among our students. At the very least, it should heighten awareness of this issue and begin productive discussions and reflections about a real problem that can no longer be ignored”.
At a media preview of “Bully” recently, Mrs. Jane Cacacho, high school principal of Xavier School, spoke about the “Not in Our School” campaign. It aims to get everyone to buy into the campaign and pledge 3 things:
1. “I will not be a bully”
2. “I will help the bullied”
3. “I will speak up about bullying”
Guest psychiatrists and a psychologist at the media preview also confirmed how damaging it indeed is for a bullied child.
When a student knows that his/her school won’t tolerate bullying and will take immediate action, it empowers the child.
Parents should NOT feel helpless about protecting their children from bullies while in school. Most of all, our children MUST NOT feel unprotected from such ‘torture’ in their very schools, where they spend a big chunk of their hours in a day. This campaign hits me right at the core because I know that even in the best private schools, bullying exists. I will personally do whatever I can to spread the word of this anti-bullying campaign.
BULLYING MUST NOT BE TOLERATED IN SCHOOLS.
SCHOOLS MUST TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO PREVENT (AND STOP) ANY BULLYING INCIDENTS REPORTED.
STUDENTS MUST BE EMPOWERED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THEIR SCHOOLS ARE BEHIND THEM IF THEY ARE EVER BULLIED.
NO KID MUST EVER COMMIT SUICIDE AS A RESULT OF BULLYING.
After the media preview, I lined up to sign the pledge to support anti-bullying. Here’s me, pointing to what I wrote on the pledge (photo courtesy of Zsa Zsa Yu of Xavier School).
If you have ever been bullied, if you have any children who have been bullied, if you were ever the bully (hopefully not!), or if you teach/work in a school where you think bullying incidents happen, watch “Bully”, the movie.
Got any thoughts about bullying in schools? Do share your thoughts with me here.