Change comes when many like-minded individuals stand up and step forward in the same direction. The movie “Bully” calls for every person to step forward and stop bullying at its core.
The movie is the earth shattering tale of a few families and a few children who are affected daily by bullying. Some of the stories portray kids who were bullied so much they attempted, or succeeded in committing suicide, and the families who are left picking up the pieces and wondering what went wrong now that they’re gone.
About 70 students, community members and teachers attending the movie event, all in recognition of Bully Awareness Week. There was audible sobbing in the theater as the movie played, especially when a mother described how her husband and son found her oldest boy hanging in his closet after being bullied in school.
Most moving for me during the movie, was the journey of a young boy who gets picked on for being “creepy.” The child has big lips, big cheeks, a big nose and glasses. He laughs along as kids pick on him, calling him fish-face, punching him, and at times choking him. The kid is so desperate for friends he takes whatever attention he can get. Yet, when the issues are brought up to the school, nothing is done. He is lectured more than the students who bullied him and the school administration seems more upset that his parents found out about the bullying than the bullying itself.
This clearly is unacceptable, and why Bully Awareness Week is so important. The prevention of bullying begins with the students who are around bullying every day, but it is important for adults to get involved as well. Simply watching a kid get bullied, when you can lend a supporting hand is destructive for a child. Adults and parents have the responsibility to raise their children to be kind and empathetic. Victims of bullying need the support of a community – and those guilty of being a bully need condemnation from adults.
“We want people to realize the damage that bullying can do and realize that it's not ok, and that you're just as guilty if you sit back and watch as if you are the one doing it – because you can stop it,” said Youth Council Member Derrick Shupe in an interview last week. “You can make a difference for that kid that's getting picked on.”
It will take an organized effort and genuine responsibility to make the change. This week, students at St. James High School began talking about bullying and how it affects their everyday lives. This might just be a spark for the bully prevention fire. If just one student stands up for bullying, it could save a child’s life.
Page 2 of 2 - This week, members of the St. James Youth Council spoke to students first as a large group and then smaller groups about bullying. Each day focused on different topics for discussion, with an overall goal of awareness and prevention.
There is also a poster contest for children grades six through eight. The posters are being created with the theme of recognizing bullying prevention. The winner of the contest will receive a Youth Council T-Shirt.
The end of the week has an assembly scheduled, with a skit taking place Friday about situational bullying.
“We are mostly focusing on bullying 101, you know, who gets bullied, why people bully, what can you do when you see it being done and who can you tell,” said Youth Council Member Yari Hernandez.
The St. James Youth Council is made up of about 25 youth members of St. James who want to make a positive impact on the lives of people in the St. James area. They have volunteered at multiple events and community meetings during this last year including Rake the Town, Meals on Wheels and a recent funeral. Any youth member of St. James can join after a short application process.
The St. James Youth Council is dedicated to helping those students who are bullied and afraid to attend school every day. With the community supporting them, they hope to make St. James a bully-free zone.
The Youth Council, in collaboration with the Rotary club in St. James sponsored the viewing of “Bully” at the Princess Theater. The movie is available for rental at Redbox and Super Fair Foods.