The message is not just for LGBT kids, however. I was bullied in middle school, and I think sometimes that it is what led me to want to teach that age-level. One student in particular tormented me, and I felt powerless. I clearly remember my feelings of despair and of self-loathing. I remember trying to hold onto a scrap of self-worth, and feeling it slip away when my tormentor focused on me. I often say that it was the worst time of my life, and it was! The wonderful life I have now was hard to imagine back then. This is an incredibly important message, because giving up on hope can have devastating consequences.
As a teacher, I see or hear about students experiencing this kind of treatment. I speak to parents who are also in pain, wishing that they could help their child, but not knowing what to do to make it better. I feel for them, and I remember my own sense of being overwhelmed and helpless. I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I wish that I had.
Bullying can take so many forms, and can fly under an adult’s radar too easily. Now I say, “The most interesting adults I know had a difficult time in school. As a result, they are more introspective, have more empathy, are more self-aware.” All of those things come later though, and it doesn’t necessarily help to hear it when you’re engaged in it. Or does it?
The videos on the It Gets Better site are heartbreaking, and truly inspiring. They delve into many, many different stories – all in the theme of life’s most difficult moments. They are survivor’s stories. “It gets better.” I’ve said that to my own students many times. It is so important to get that message out, and for it to be heard by those who are currently in pain.
The Bully Project is a new documentary on the subject. Watching the trailer, you can feel the sense of isolation in the voices of the students talking. It follows five students in a year, filming them, and their families, as they deal with this issue in their lives. I haven’t seen this film yet, but I will. There are also resources on a government website – to see how the government is supporting this cause, visit this site.
The more we talk about bullying, the less power it will have. At least, that’s my hope.