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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

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As someone who was so horribly bullied in primary school that he switched to a different high school to get away from "them", I am just SO glad this issue is being seriously addressed. I don't have any kids, so I can't comment on whether it's worse now than before, but it was pretty horrible 40 years ago too!

As a teacher and a kid who was "teased", I now say what it was "bullied", bullying is a particular passionate issue for me. I'm not afraid of anyone or anything anymore in terms of what I will stand up against. However, the idea, still prevalent, that "teasing" and "bullying" build character is utter nonsense and just sends the message that children should not turn to anyone for help. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Yerby, helped me stand up against a bully who sent me a vile "Valentine" card. She made it clear it was not okay. That was 1963 and I remember her like it was yesterday and I don't remember the idiot bully.

Thank you Mary Ann for sharing this.

So many heartbreaking stories of kids (and adults too) who are bullied for so many different reasons.
The Golden Rule is forgotten or ignored too much of the time. Thanks for sharing. :(

Wow, this is so sad. I have eight-year-old twin girls and I am constantly talking with them about how to treat others and what to do if they are bullied or see someone being bullied. It's a tough conversation but one that has to be had. Parents are big key. Susie's comment is right on, too. I'm the Director of Student Life at a very large four-year college in Florida, and lately we have been having a problem with lack of respect shown by students to faculty, security, admin, even other students, and I think it goes back to that meanness and snarkyness that seems to be overtaking our society. I've worked in Student Life and I've definitely seen a shift in the past two-three years in how many students treat others on campus. Our Student Government is currently working on a respect campaign to try to change some of the behaviors. Thanks for sharing this.

They did an excellent episode of "Harry's Law" last week on this very subject, about a girl who wrote a "mean/snarky" blog and how her comments helped drive another teenager to suicide. David E. Kelley does a great job of presenting both sides of a story so it's not black and white about who is right and who is wrong, and how kids are exposed to all sorts of mixed messages in the world around them every day. Bullying is so harmful to a fragile ego but often the bullies need just as much help to heal their tortured souls. I agree with Susie, why can't we all just respect each other? We all deserve that, at the very least.

We have a very serious anti-bullying program in our schools starting in pre-school, right through high school. I am so proud of the results - my kids go to a high school that has about 15 different afterschool clubs for all genders, cultures, races and sexual orientation. It's not perfect or pollyanna - I am sure there are little bumps in the road. But they are addressed right away.

My kids have friends in all the colors of the rainbow - diversity and acceptance is the norm. There is a very strong parental component - which is probably the key. We could do with a bit more of it everywhere and maybe films like this will bring about a universal change. One can hope!!

Goggle MTV Shows and watch If You Really Knew Me. Bullies tend to overcompensate their own pain by inflicting pain unto others. My mother has a pretty good track record of fixing these type of situations, and believe me when I tell you she has been very busy keeping me out of harm's way. She is creative, unthreatening, fearless, and what I believe to be her biggest weapon she is ridiculously caring. I would be less than honest if I said I wasn't secretly wishing for her on occasion to use her freakishly amped up strength on a few of my tormentors, but then Malachi, who called me gay, ugly, stupid, and threw pencils at me, and Cameron, who use to trip me and bump into me at every single opportunity, wouldn't be friends.

Do you remember back in the day when we went to school on post and we had Bus Monitors? Boy do we need to go back to that! When my youngest son was in grade school {public ;} I tried to volunteer for a Bus Monitor and/or a Cafeteria Monitor and they flat out refused. They looked at me like I was crazy...told me to contact the "Parents Assoc." to see if they needed any voluteers. Give me a break! So sad because it's the kids who suffer...because the schools are too worried about being sued.

We've had a bullyproofing program at our school for some years. It does make a difference.

I think the comment about the meanness of our culture is spot on. Everyone who reads your blog can come up with multiple examples of contemporary media that glorify rudeness and mean spirit.

The way for these TV shows, movies, cartoons, etc to disappear is not to consume them, but that doesn't look like it's happening anytime soon.

Hi Mary Ann
We've been hearing a ton about bullying in the past few months. That it is still happening breaks my heart. I was bullied as a kid. I know how it feels to be the object of unwanted attention. It happened in school and I went to a 'catholic' grade school and outside of school. To this day it's a subject that still hurts my heart. In our district 6 kids have committed suicide in the last year all due to bullying. Last year my oldest did a report for her school paper about stereo-typing and how it can lead to bullying. Why can't we all live together and respect each other? I just don't get it. I wonder at what point in a child's life do they make the transition from a sweet toddler and baby and turn to acting out in hurtful behaviors. It has to begin somewhere, at home? another child who has hurt them? Why do these kids keep falling through the cracks and why do innocent kids have to spend so much time seeking the need to protect themselves and hurting so deeply inside? That place of fear is such a deeply cold and lonely place. That is no way for any child to live. Thanks for touching on such a painful subject but the more of us that there are looking for ways to help our kids, somewhere today one less kid is being bullied but the sad reality is that somewhere today a child has been hurt and the hurt is not the kind that a band-aid will fix.

I'm not sure when we became such a mean society but I don't like it. And it's creeping into everything. Even some ads on TV seem mean-spirited, and comedy is so mean that most of it just isn't funny anymore. When will we wake up and realize that we're all the same....we're all human beings. And when you hurt someone else you're also hurting yourself. Are we all "so perfect" that we can belittle or make fun of others? Don't get me started on this!!

I read your post and wanted to share something with you and your readers. My awesome daughter works for CLIMB Theater, an amazing not for profit teaching company that's been around since the 70's. CLIMB partners with schools and organizations all over the US (and Japan!) and presents interactive teaching around whatever topics the schools/teachers want. Their most popular (sad) request is around bullying, especially cyber-bullying. Here's their link for whoever might be interested: www.climb.org. It's just heart breaking that bullying is not only still around today but thriving in ways we could never have imagined. I'm proud of the work she does and share this information because people don't know that organizations like CLIMB exist. Maybe Jenny's daughter can get some ideas and support for starting her group at school. I hope this information helps, and thanks for posting on a difficult and often hidden topic, Mary Ann.

Greetings Moss Cottage, I do not want to start on this bullying subject there is not enough comment space, but where are the parents? they donot care anymore it seems by the way the children are turning out. If I ever did something like this ever away from parents and family it would always get back to them, the neighborhood would notify my rudness and there was no if and or buts my butt would pay for this with explanation on why you do not do this to otheres. We do not have any sence of community or home like it was.I live alone with neighbors who do not care for or ask or even invite there neighbors over,my grandfather owned alot of the proberty here where I'm living and we new all of our neighbors ect.They would come when needed ask how you were say
hello.So we who do care have to try and do something? What Im not sure.
Linda

I was bullied because I was different. I didn't fit in. Those two years of my life were torture. It would have continued if my family hadn't moved. It gave me a chance to start over. To be 13 and have suicidal thoughts is a heartbreaking place to be at so young an age. Very lonely. It's true what is said in the video you posted. Just to have one voice standing in solidarity with you can make all the difference in the world. Thank you for posting this!

Thanks for writing about this. It totally breaks my heart.

I'm going to pass this along to my daughter. She is starting an anti-bullying group at her high school for her Graduation Research Project. She can use things like these in her presentations. Until we as adults (parents, educators, and community members) stop allowing this to go on, tragedies like this will continue.

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