I grew up in a pretty small town. Our school district was geographically large, but there were only two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. There were 170 people in my graduating class. I remember parents often bragging how “the kids all know each other really well.” That was true – we’d been together since the beginning and we all knew where the others lived, what bus they rode to school, and what their dog’s name was. We also knew what specific personal things were pressure points for each other and some classmates chose to use that information for their advantage.
Here’s a photo of me in 9th grade. Can you guess what my pressure point was?
Thankfully, I don’t know of any times that any physical violence occurred. I can’t even count, though, the number of times emotional attacks were made because of how well we knew each other. They are both bullying. Things were especially bad for me in middle school. I can remember several mornings that I begged my mom not to make me go to school because one particular female classmate had chosen me as her target for the week. Did I tell my mom why I didn’t want to go? No. I didn’t know how to start that conversation and I don’t think she ever thought it was one she would need to have with me. Now, however, we all know. We have seen stories of how tragically some bullying situations have ended. This should never happen. We, as parents, adults, and citizens, have a responsibility to help end the bullying epidemic.
Sundance and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch has directed an incredible film that documents the life of five students and families over an entire school year in the Sioux City Community School District. The film offers a look into many different areas of life in this district and is a gift to parents, educators, and schools. If you’re unsure of how to talk with children and teenagers about bullying, watch this movie together. The Bully Project has provided resources on their website to help you talk with your kids after viewing the movie. Please, please, please check it out.