The Issue of Bullying

A fellow teacher and friend posted a link to It Gets Better  on her Facebook today, and I re-posted it to mine. The project focuses on teen bullying, and the message is that kids should hang on through the toughest times because life does get better, as a series of videos talks directly to bullied teens who may be thinking of ending their lives. The project began as a response to a spate of suicides related to bullied LGBT teens. Dan Savage heard about the suicides, and wanted to help.

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.



8 Responses to “The Issue of Bullying”

  1.   Sarah Lown Says:

    Hi Kami-
    I am so excited to find your blog.
    If anyone tries to bully YOU them them I will BEAT THEM UP!

  2.   Kami Mulzet Says:

    Thanks Sarah! Same for you! Nice thing about aging though…no one really can these days!

  3.   Michael Dobishinsky Says:

    Hopefully one day bullying will be a thing of the past.

    ~Michael
    http://www.thecolorofsound.edublogs.org

  4.   Dalton Jackson Says:

    We’ve come a long way on bullying, but I think there are still a lot of serious challenges surrounding the issue.

    Bullies, being cowards by nature, do a lot to keep their behaviors hidden from view. As a result, we often don’t find out about it until an unacceptable amount of damage – psychological and otherwise – has been done.

    I think publicity campaigns like this ‘It Gets Better’ go a long way, but I think we also need to look at better ways of letting students know it’s alright to step forward when they see bullying, both to report it to the appropriate authorities and to let the bullies know that their behavior is unacceptable.

  5.   smithawyth Says:

    “The more we talk about bullying, the less power it will have. At least, that’s my hope.”

    It’s my hope, too. I try to talk it to death. I’m a pretty good talker, so hopefully my contribution is helping!

    I also share my personal stories of being bullied in elementary school to try to show that it gets better. We also had a great speaker at my school last week who had a rope that was 80 feet long, with each foot representing a year in the average lifespan of an American. He marked off the time spent in elementary, middle, and high school, and visually showed the students how short that time is compared to life as a whole. I thought that was a pretty powerful image.

  6.   Kami Mulzet Says:

    Great idea with the rope! Thanks so much for sharing that!

  7.   keves Says:

    Thanks for your blog post! I am an elementary school teacher, and find bullying behavior even at a young age. I think it’s also so important to have dialogue about bullying, and explicitly teach children what bullying is, and how to handle it in particular situations. Just this past week, we had a member of a well known basketball team come to talk to our students. He gave examples of how he was bullied, and invited other teachers to do the same. I feel that sometimes, bullying is an effect of a lack of education on the subject. Kids may be aware of their actions, but do not always know the consequences. Giving them the language, the real examples, and strategies will without a doubt, bring a hightened awareness to the issues, and hopefully less incidenents.

  8.   Kami Mulzet Says:

    Thanks for reading my post! I agree with you, kids need to learn what these behaviors are to idenitfy them, and kids at all ages need to be told that their actions have consequences. It is up to all of us, especially the adults in their lives, to keep educating them. I talk to my own 13 year old daughter about this often. It isn’t just a school responsibility, it is a parental responsibilty as well. Thanks so much for your thoughful reply!

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