Friday, May 16, 2014

To Stand Up To Bullies

Around this time last year, I watched the documentary “Bully” for the first time. I admit, I didn't want to watch it. I thought it would be like the typical anti-bullying assemblies my friends and I weren't brave enough to ditch in high school. You know, the kinds of things that kids who bully wouldn't hear and kids who didn't bully didn't need to hear.
“Raise your hand if your peers have ever hurt your feelings.”

“Raise your hand if you've ever hurt somebody's feelings.”

Activities that produce more eye rolls than eye openers. I didn't want to watch it, but when I walked out of class that day after getting through only the first half of the movie, I felt sick. Everyone was silent. My friend and I didn't know what to say to each other as we made our way—slower than usual—to our next class. She was the first to say anything. A sigh, and then, “Well, that was...”

I groaned, looked at her for a second before shifting my eyes to my feet, and started crying. Then she started crying. We didn't want to; it just happened. We must have looked ridiculous: two girls standing in the middle of the sunny park blocks between picnickers, slackliners, and sunbathers, wiping our eyes and looking at the ground. This was not the typical, ineffective anti-bullying push.

Today I want to share with you something from The Bully Project, a social action campaigned inspired by the film “Bully”. I'm not expecting you all to have the kind of reaction my friend and I had to “Bully”; I just think it's a good campaign that should be given some attention. So here you go!

During an exercise at school, Jake spoke his mind about being bullied by his peers. Jake, who has autism, called his classmates out for making fun of him, not taking him seriously, and not trying to get to know him. In the video, filmed as part of The Bully Project, Jake starts off tentative, but he gains momentum and manages to say quite a lot in a short period of time.

Often, it seems that standing up for yourself makes the situation worse. Luckily for Jake, his situation has improved considerably since confronting his classmates.

From Upworthy:

"Bullying has had a big impact on my life, but since the movie I’ve made a lot of friends. Recently, I have joined my high school football team! At first I thought they would all be complete jerks, but actually they are pretty cool guys and have helped me through a lot of situations — they stand up for me!

"For other kids with autism, if you're getting bullied, try and tell them to stop and not give a reaction — if that doesn’t work, go to an adult. It might seem hard cause we can’t handle stress as well as other kids, but you will get through it and you’ll be awesome — actually you already are!

"Bullying does not make you cool — you might think you are on the top of the food chain — but you’re not going to be there forever."

We're all just people, so lend kindness and respect. Have a great weekend!

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