An End to Bullying?

Next Wednesday in NYC, Lee Hirsch, the producer of “Bully,” will be showing clips from his remarkable film and talking about the growing problem of bullying in our schools (and beyond).

Please  watch the trailer:

Once you’ve done that, I am certain you will want to be at the JCC of Manhattan Wednesday evening, December 11th at 7:30 to hear from Lee, ask your questions, and perhaps share your own stories.    I hope to see you at 334 Amsterdam Avenue (76th Street) on Wednesday.  Please call 646.505.4444 to make a reservation, or write me so we can hold a place for you. Tickets are only $15, and you get a glass of wine out of the deal too, if you choose.

The topic of bullying has been swept under the rug for too long. As Lee will tell us, it’s a problem we can solve, and must solve.

4 Responses to “An End to Bullying?”

  1. Frank Gould 05. Dec, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    It is difficult for me to write about bullying. Most of the “experts” on bullying don’t seem to have a clue about what it’s really like to be bullied, and what it might take to end it. As someone who was bullied during my childhood I know one thing. There is nothing that the person being bullied can do about it. I would lie awake at night deciding what I was going to do the next day, but the next day would come and I could not do anything, except accept the reality and, if possible, run away to avoid the bully. The bully is especially adept at identifying the individual who can be bullied.

    I certainly appreciate the efforts that people and organizations are putting into trying to stem bullying, but I question how successful they will be. If they are able to save one child then they are doing well, but support for others is more important. Not just identifying the bully, but providing a positive identity for the bullied. Too much emphasis seems to be directed toward confronting the bully and get him or her to cease bullying. That does not help the bullied to find a positive self to build upon.

    I watched the trailer and found it interesting that the focus of the trailer is on male bullying. When I was a teacher we had an “expert” come to our district to help us deal with bullying. His emphasis was on male bullying, basically rank setting. I was teaching third grade and knew that the girls in my class faced a different kind of bullying, exclusion from the female group. That kind of bullying, exclusion from the “community” is the common bullying for girls. I find that to be marginalized in many discussions on bully. There seems to be more of a focus on male bullying which involves more rank setting. ‘I’m at the top and you’re at the bottom, so I can pick on you, you piece of shit.” Both styles of bullying are equally painful and damaging to the bullied, but most expert analysis seems to deal with male bullying, which is more overt and physical.

    I hope Lee has some answers for all bullying, even in the marketplace with adults. It exists, I have lived with my experience for over sixty years. It is a common facet of human nature. The ongoing discussion is important, but more important than ending it, is find ways recognized and support those being bullied, those who are not able to personally do anything about it. That’s where the change should come. “Boys will be boys” doesn’t work for the bottom rung, nor does “girls will be girls” for the outcast. And anti–”social media” is making it worse.

  2. Sandy Stenoff 06. Dec, 2013 at 12:10 am #

    Adult bullying in schools is a problem too. Districts give authority to their admins to report and police themselves. Fox? Henhouse? Helloooo…..

    I am a parent and education activist. I regularly read letters from teachers, frustrated, demeaned, harassed…in other words, BULLIED. Teachers also express feeling desperate and despondent.

    A pattern of power, domination and fear keeps teachers from speaking out, and clearly, the pattern is not just with administrators: some teachers who are department chairs or in other positions of power are also bullying their colleagues.

    When there is a pervasive culture of bullying at all levels of schools, how can teachers be sufficiently aware of what is happening to their students, when they are being bullied themselves?

    This must stop.

  3. Mother in New Orleans 06. Dec, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    My son is on the autism spectrum, and bullying has been a plague on his entire school career. Besides the verbal taunting and insults (calling him retarded and freak and faggot), he has been physically abused terribly, even requiring hospitalization for a kick to his spine by a bully,
    when the teacher walked out of the gym to get a basketball….

    And something that was very disturbing were the attitudes of the school principals. One told me, “This is just what kids do in school; it’s a part of growing up. You have to let your son go through this or he’ll never become a man.”

    My son was recently cyberbullied terribly…a boy was sending him messages on Facebook in his message box calling him a faggot and retard and recommending that he commit
    suicide! He was crying for days, and we didn’t know why. Finally he showed us the messages….Oh My God!! The bully had posted several messages to my son recommending suicide and saying that people were laughing at him and that lots of kids wanted him to
    kill himself. Because our son is on the autism spectrum, he did not know that the boy was
    lying/bullying him. This put him at great risk…we had to bring him to the psychologist for two months to help him deal with the upset.
    I saw that the kid who was the cyberbully lives in Tucson, and so I called the Tucson Police and forwarded them the messages. The officer I spoke with said they were going to go to his school. Then I spoke with the boy’s grandfather, who said he wasn’t a bit surprised, that the boy orders violent things online and plays violent games constantly.

    You are so right, John, when you say this problem is swept under the rug..it certainly is…..I don’t think it’s taken seriously…it should be considered a crime…Why is it
    not??? It’s assault and battery, isn’t it???

    Thank you and the makers of this film. Something has to change.

  4. Rogier Gregoire 06. Dec, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    I suggest that bullying is a predictable result of an educational system that is designed to disconnect students (teachers as well) from one another by modeling the public school after the inherent siloing or isolation of individuals (and groups) from one another. Schools do not treat human beings as aspects of of a whole or as a continuum. Students are not encouraged to freely exchange and consider comments from their peers and to their peers. This is the developing of a social framework and model of behavior that prepares students for work in an industrial setting. Pay attention to the authoritarian figure in the classroom so that they would hold those ideas later at work. Follow instructions and abandon any notions of intellectual autonomy or inquiry as an examination of the assumptions buried in the curriculum. The schools are a model for isolation, alienation and distrust among students, and in other ways even teachers.

    A school run on the premise of collaboration and empathy is antithetical to industrial society. This school model would emphasize mutual concern for the wellbeing of the collective and the sacredness of individual identity rather than an identity built on competition. At the higher level of the school system to embrace the industrial notion that that schools should be measured by standards of employment so that our system can be evaluated against global industrial capitalism rather than individual human development. The schools promote a false hierarchical notion of society predicated on competition and the myth that growth is based on the survival of the fittest. Students are excoriated for helping one another or attempting to show mutual concern for the well being of the society.

    The current school model perpetuates industrial purposes over human development and as such also creates and promotes the myth of race and the resulting behavior understood as racism.

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