Bully premieres in New York and LA today. (Actually in about 20 min. in NYC.)
I worked with Lee Hirsch (director) and Cynthia Lowen (producer) during the development phase. Actually, it was just the three of us at the time. (My background is television publicity but ever since Columbine, I have had a passionate interest in this issue...because it's not really an "issue," its an irrational crushing of young hearts.)
Now that the film is out, my thoughts go to "what happens next?"
When you see it (and if you're on this blog, there's a good chance you will), you'll be shocked, saddened and I hope inspired to do something.
For those of you reading this and already working in the field -- Thank You. I know it's been hard to be heard. I know it's been hard to raise money and get your message out there and your tools in the right hands. Regardless of discussions on ratings, I know the movie will help the world pay attention so that resources will become more available. You deserve support.
But what do you do as an individual when you walk out of the theater? You'll almost hope that you're in a position to help a child feel less isolated and hurt.
EVERY SINGLE PERSON is in a position to help.
Here are just three of the ways we can all jump in (and more to come):
• Realize that the movie camera has the advantage of doing closeups and gives us a clear picture of the pain in a child's eyes and confusion on their face. Be the camera. If you feel a child may be having a hard time, don't wait for them to tell you (because most don't). Let them know you actually "see" them, ask questions and then listen without judgment and without overreacting. Strategize together.
Bullying Stops In Ten Seconds When Someone Steps In. Be the Upstander.
• If your child is of school age, consider helping the school raise money for training. Every adult in a school building should be trained but they often don't have the funds. No one ever talks about the money. We can't blame schools until we've helped them get help.
• Care about other people's kids. There are a few ways to do this. If you have children, make sure they're not being the bully -- offline or online. (Kids will be kids...but that's what teachable moments are all about.) Step up when you see another child being mistreated or talk to your own children about how to step up in a way that's comfortable for them. Compliment them when they do.
And finally, Be the One Go-To Adult. If you are interested in early prevention, download the certificate and letter to use at school, girl scouts, boy scouts, after school programs, etc. It's free and there are tips on how to be a person that saves a child from the long tail of pain that bullying causes.
As I finish this post, the movie has premiered. Let me know what you think and how I can help you make a difference.
Sometimes it just takes One.