Bully – the movie
It’s about time somebody made a movie about being a bully or getting bullied showing real footage.
And they have!
My definition of being a bully
My view of being a bully or bullying others comes down basically to some kind of abuse of power.
I’m sure a behavioral psychologist could tell you all sorts of things about why bullying happens (and I’m not a psychologist), but I have thought long and hard about my experiences of being bullied and come up with a few observations.
My experience of being bullied at school and at play
My first experience of being bullied was at junior school (UK speak for elementary school).
There were two different girls who would bully me – they were both friends of mine and they would play power games with me, liking me one week, disliking me the next. Sometimes the ‘games’ involved applying physical pain or emotional distance and manipulation.
I was the class ‘nerd’ but not popular. I was usually 2nd or 3rd in class scores. The most ‘popular’ girl was first and used to rush up and check my score on any tests to make sure I hadn’t ‘beaten’ her. So no help or protection there.
Then another friend in my neighborhood started being a bully. She had been a friend before, but when we went to comprehensive school (age 11-16 in the UK) we were in different class ‘streams’ and she flipped on me, choosing to bully.
So why did these girls decide to bully me?
I was definitely different. Definitely what people in the US might call ‘nerdy’. Also quite spiritual at a young age. I refused to join in ‘games’ where girls would pick on one girl and ignore her for a week, then pick another. So then they picked on me instead.
I did accept their behavior and never fought back, (except for once, when I discovered that one hard punch solved one bully problem for good).
I wouldn’t recommend it though – luckily no-one in authority saw me but there was no-one else to help and I was outnumbered. It’s one of the few times I’ve ever hit someone and it was a long time coming.
I was in a fortunate household. I was fed regularly, taken good care of at home and had a nice house with a back garden, even a swing.
The girl who ‘flipped’ on me had a very difficult home life. Her house’s back yard almost backed onto ours, and we used to hear the parents arguing and fighting sometimes. Her older brother had been in prison once and I knew she was genuinely scared of him. So was I. If we saw him on the street we would run. And if he caught her – he was not kind.
I know she was jealous of our relatively peaceful family life. She used to look through the empty knotholes in our wooden fence when we would be outside enjoying our garden. The sad thing was, we used to be friends and then she chose not to be, she chose to bully instead. Hopefully from this story you can see that it was learned behavior.
Then there’s the bully we encounter at work- it doesn’t stop in the playground
I had a boss once who was a misogynist (woman-hater) and a bully. I guess I still had more to learn about how to deal with people with those issues!
He tried to be touchy-feely with women at work and already had two warnings about his behavior. I just used to keep the desk between him and me and not sit next to him at meetings since he tried to bully me this way too. (Remember, my definition of bullying is an abuse of power).
His ‘management style’ was to bully all of the managers in one way or another at company meetings. You never knew when it would be your turn.
I left that company.
How can we prevent a child from becoming a bully?
That’s a tough one. I do my best at home to instigate good behavior from the start.
In our house my husband and intervene when this happens and do not approve of…
- name-calling (this is a big one)
- grabbing or snatching from others
- trying to force one’s own way instead of negotiating
- hitting, screaming or shouting
- commenting negatively on others appearance
Nobody ever said parenting would be easy.
Modern anti-bully movements – it’s time to face up to the nastier side of our natures!
I think the Bully movie is well worth a watch, it is uncomfortable viewing. I noticed a couple of interesting quotes in this video.
One person on the review board says “This is an awfully difficult and complicated issue”. No, it’s not! If we’re not taught to know better, people do get kicks from being a bully, because they have the power (at least in that moment).
I also believe that if anyone doesn’t speak up when bullying is taking place, the bully will move into that space and take more power, feeling that their behavior is condoned.
Parents condone it too. Another quote from this clip. “Kids will be kids, boys will be boys, kids are cruel at this age”. No, they’re not!
Teaching kids how to use their power for good is what hasn’t been taught widely yet. That is one of the reasons why a person becomes a bully in my opinion.
I made peace with a bully from my past
One of the girls that had bullied me in junior school got in touch a couple of years ago online and apologized for her behavior.
She told me about several home problems (as a child I was unaware of these and thought she had the ‘perfect’ life). It was good for both of us to be able to let this go.
As Lady Gaga and her mother said in their recent interview with Oprah, after launching Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation (against bullying) “Bullies are victims, too”. It’s an anti-bullying foundation, Lady Gaga prefers the words “Youth Empowerment Organization”.
Update 4th April 20102 – Bully the movie now rated PG13!
One girl made a difference this year because she was bullied! She set up a petition on Change.org to change the rating of Bully to PG13.
Now schools can screen this movie!
Another Western woman changing the world. Thanks Katy Butler!
Why do parents find it so hard to admit their child may be a bully and stay in denial, even when evidence is shown?
It’s painful. Some children do lack an ability to connect emotionally with other or experience empathy. That is one issue.
But children of parents without that particular issue have learned the behavior. I think that must be an incredibly painful thing for a parent to own up to.
And what if they were a bully when they were a kid? Nobody wants to admit to being a bully.