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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Commentary. BULLY. Stand for The Silent.

Take a Stand.
(From Google Images.)
You're screaming. For your life. Except that your mouth is closed, & your voice, silent. The only noise you hear exerts itself from the mouth that speaks next to you, or in front of you, or behind you. Both. Everything you know--your logic, emotion, understanding, heart--implodes. Noxious gas. Life-threatening fumes. Nothing makes sense & everything tears. Rips. Destroys. Severs. Ravages. You're a carcass. Your humanity, 0. You don't matter. Nothing you say or do. Your safety. Your breath. The air you breathe. You. Do. Not. Matter.

This is what injustice feels like. This is what adults--or those in authority to you--sound like when they project bullying onto you like it is your fault. When they try to blame or project or deny so that they do not have to take responsibility or acknowledge their own shame in allowing it to transpire. This is what being bullied feels like. This is how indelible pain sears itself into your brain pathways and within your heart-blood so that, while you eventually learn to forgive, your body & your muscles struggle to ever forget. This is being bullied. This is an injustice.

(From Google Images.)
The documentary Bully (available on Netflix!), The BULLY Project, and Stand for the Silent are part of international campaigns to end bullying. Students--children--have killed them selves. Their fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters have found them. These children have committed suicide. They have taken their lives. Children as young as 11. Students--children--have felt pain--physical and emotional pain--so paramount that they have decided: life can only be better only without meBecause what else defense was present as an option for them to decide upon??

If you've bullied someone, watch. If you've been bullied, watch. If you've been indifferent to bullying, watch. If you are a parent of a bully, watch. If you are the parent of a bullied child, watch. For God's Sakes if you are an educator, watch. I cannot stomach the principal in this documentary for her incredible ignorance when interacting with both students and parents. It makes me sick. SICK.

Get Better Strategies
One time when I substitute taught, I heard & saw some larger kid punk on this littler kid during passing-time in the hallway. Intervening is tricky. If your guy-friend is being bullied & you intervene as a girl, your guy-friend becomes a "pussy." If your student is being bullied & you intervene in front of the whole class as a teacher, your student becomes the "teachers-pet." Regardless, intervening is always better than indifference. Therefore to effectively intervene, cultivate strategies. I chose the (unofficially titled) mafia strategy. It has less to do with shame, and everything to do with letting the bully know who is Boss.

Hey. The bullied student had scrambled-away by now, so the bully was less-likely to project my confrontation. Come here. The student was already in close proximity. At this point, he had no choice.

Yeah. The bully turned. Doe-eyed & ready to turn on his charm.

Does that make you feel good?? I projected my voice. A personal choice whilst using this strategy, and a calculated move. I repeated myself. Does that make you feel good.  The kid began to stammer. He tried to form an excuse. You just made fun of that kid. I saw it. A lot of people saw it. Do you feel good about yourself? Does that sort of thing make you feel good about yourself?? 

The student had no idea how to respond. He felt embarrassed. As he should. I would not want the student to feel ashamed. (Hence no name calling like: You're a bad person!!) But he should feel embarrassed. It'd be one thing if I embarrassed the student by imparting an injustice onto him. But I did not. I used observations about his actions in order to ask questions. If he felt embarrassed, it means he did something he should not have and he needs to be held accountable for it. Of course, this "strategy" is not fool-proof. I know many different students in many different environments who could have cursed-me-out or turned physical. Hence: know-your-audience.

This is also why bullying must be tackled on case-by-case basises and using various strategies. Uniting factor? Strategic confrontation. Call-the-bully-out. When a student bullies, we educators and care-givers must learn to identify what reaction the bully expects to get. We all know what bullies need: power, control, attention. So what does the bully expect? Popularity? Praise? Approval? Acceptance? Followers? Accolades? Street cred? Once we understand that, we have an invaluable tool through which to build our defense.


All of the students documented in the film, Bully, and their families resound within my mind and my heart. Ja'Meya Jackson, who none of us should be so quick to judge. Kelby Johnson, one of the most beautiful people I've ever seen, and I will never view rain the same. Alex Libby, miracle baby who seems like such a cool kid. Tyler Long, may he rest in peace. Ty Field-Smalley, may he rest in peace. Thank you for your infinite and immaculate bravery. You are so much more.



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Not your typical BarbaraEllen ... but still be constructive. Creative also welcome! xo.