It may seem strange to some adults that bullying is such a big deal in the media these days. The reason the media is paying more attention is because the stakes are higher and are already in the public consciousness because of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the videos of teens online doing things that in previous generations they would have been too ashamed to admit in public.
What is the Bully Project?
The Bully Project is a documentary about bullying. It is also an organization working to bring awareness to the plight of students across the country who are being bullied in school. One of the reasons the project is getting so much attention right now is because the recently released movie ended up unrated rather than having a rating that would prevent all ages from seeing it. Why would a documentary about children be rated anything other than PG? Because bullying is harsh topic and the only way to really examine the topic fairly is to do so honestly. An honest look at bullying is going to be difficult to watch. That is why the organization behind the documentary suggests that teachers and parents prepare children for the film prior to the viewing. This will help create realistic expectations and foster beneficial communication.
Why is Bullying Worse Now?
Human tendencies have not suddenly changed. Children and adults have always been mean to one another, in varying degrees. There are two reasons bullying seems worse now than in past generations. The Internet makes it more visible and it makes it more appealing. A lot of bullying is now done in an online setting. People posting cruel comments or status updates about others or uploading embarrassing and hateful videos has become popular – in part because it is easy to do, and in part because it removes some of the accountability. It is well known that people become more aggressive when they have the anonymity of the Internet to hide behind, and bullying is an extension of that. The Internet also makes it easier to see what is happening and for extreme cases, such as those that lead to suicide or violence, to become better known by a larger audience.
What Can Schools Do?
The most important thing schools can do is raise awareness. There are numerous free resources available for schools that can help explain the problem and provide solutions for staff and students of all ages. Schools can also implement adequate punishments for those who engage in bullying of other students and make counseling resources available to those who have been bullied.
What is your school doing to reduce bullying?