Bullying has gone way beyond what it was in my high school days. Because smart phones and the internet were not even a remote thought in anyone’s mind, (except for maybe Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry), a biting, nasty “put down” in my teen years by a few kids felt like a sharp slap across the face. I’ve personally cried over bullying and it impacted my life in ways I’m still discovering and working through to understand. But bullying in those days did not have the heavier punch it has today.
Now, if a bully wants to “get” someone, the maligning comments zoom out into the Ethernet in a matter of seconds, igniting other bullies to fuel the flame of vitriol, multiplying a slap into a beating that keeps on repeating itself until the bully’s target is pushed beyond breaking. Unlike my school days when being a good kid and pleasing my parents took priority over being liked by my friends, kids today will do just about anything to be accepted, even if that means sacrificing their self-esteem and self-respect.
Many times schools can do nothing permanent to stop this kind of behavior. The effective action would be to get the bully into counseling to find the root of why they need to belittle someone to make themselves feel better. But that means the parents would have to see there’s a problem. But if the parent is locked into the same behavior, it’s very likely that nothing would change. So what’s to be done about this growing problem?
Recently, I heard a wonderful story about a young man’s reaction to being bullied. I found it so impressive, I wanted to pass it along. It made me realize, yet again, how what happens to us is not as important as how we handle it. In this case the person being bullied turned this horrible event into something creative, helpful, and even inspiring.
During his high school years, this young man excelled in a particular area. Another boy, also interested in the same thing and not liking the idea of having competition, began bullying the young man, in the hopes he would give up his creative pursuit. Although the young man found the bullying hurtful, he kept pursuing his goals, winning awards and accolades on his projects. The bullying escalated until the language became life threatening. Although the school put a stop to it for a short time, nothing really was resolved. But the young man being bullied did not give up.
What impressed me so much about this entire story was the young man’s absolute refusal to buy into the bully’s…bull. Yes, he was hurt. Yes, he endured humiliation. Yes, he was a victim, but he did not let this travesty define him. Instead, he was inspired to write a short movie about bullying, showing how the target & protagonist in the movie, in the case a girl, realizes that she does not need the friendship or the approval of the bully to have self-esteem. She also realized that the very act of standing up for herself gives her that self-esteem.
The actual incident happened a few years ago. I’m happy to say that the young man got through high school, is about to graduate college and has continued to pursue his filmmaking career, winning awards and recognition along his way. Currently, he’s has a paying gig on a film.
I believe that Frank Sinatra once said something like, “The best revenge is enormous success.” And that’s the truth!
We know that bullying can be devastating to the person it targets. In an effort to help schools and other groups cope with this problem, the bullying video that the young man created and directed is available for purchase at the following website: stopbullyingfoundation.org. If you are a parent, teacher or a concerned citizen who knows of a group that might find this helpful, the video could be a step toward solving an increasingly troublesome problem. The producers on the film have been invited to talk about it at various schools around the country. Their contact information is available on the website as well.
The Power Of Together can make a difference in how we achieve change, but it begins with each of us being accountable.
If you know of someone who has walked through a situation like this, please leave a comment here. We learn from each other.