When The Weinstein Company reached out to me about their upcoming film BULLY, which is a powerful documentary that opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, I felt empowered to share my own personal story in an effort to spread awareness about the issue of bullying.
Over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation. The new documentary film BULLY, directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, brings human scale to this startling statistic, offering an intimate, unflinching look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families.
BULLY is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders.It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.
Check out details to the film by going to: http://www.thebullyproject.com/
Check out the BULLY Movie Trailer:
When I first arrived to America as an immigrant from the Philippines, I had no clue what to expect as a five year old. Very afraid of new boundaries, cultures, and people – I knew that my life would forever change. We moved to Grand Prairie (a city within the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolis in Texas) back in 1986 and it was a huge culture shock for me. My first few years of elementary school involved working with ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers on attempting to speak English. As a self-taught child, I learned all the basics fundamentals on my own from the help of PBS and Sesame Street that children my age learned before they even began Kindergarten.
*(The girl pictured here is me at the Age of 11)
As I grew older and became more accustomed to the “ways of this city”, I found myself being ranked in positions that I had no clue about. I soon discovered I love to sing (and could actually sing well), and my leadership skills were higher than other peers within my class. I had no clue what a “Class President” did, yet was nominated and chosen as my 3rd grade class' Class President and did it well. I truly felt like I was on the right path of belonging somewhere and having a sense of camaraderie. But as children transitioning from elementary school to the “tween” years of middle school, a lot of things started changing! Not only was my body changing, but so were my friends, and my responsibilities. As I experienced growth spurts, I had gone through an “ugly duckling” stage in my life where I honestly felt my lowest in self-esteem. From seventh through ninth grade, I had begun to plummet in everything – from grades, to the way I dressed, to my interaction with other students. My parents never cared to ask me if I was okay or if I was being bullied, and never offered me an opportunity to talk about my feelings. It was just weird in my culture to get warm and fuzzy like you see on television shows during those times of watching Full House.
*(Age 15 on the floor in the dark gray shirt. Much different now vs. then)
In all reality – I was being bullied by other girls in my class. It started with a boy liking me that another girl liked. And then that girl got all of her girlfriends to despise me. And then came the rumors, the lies, and the vicious attacks on my self-worth as a person. From getting spit on to fist fights – I experienced it all. There were stories about bullying that ended in horrible suicides. It all started with an exchange of “mean” and hurtful words with them – just like mine did. They ALL start off that way. I had the hardest time trying to figure out what I did wrong for everyone to hate me. The difference between me and the other children getting bullied in these stories: I fought back hard. I became rebellious and started finding other “tough” friends that could stick up for me and did not judge me for the way I looked or if another boy liked me. I became the bully, and I turned it around on those who bullied me. And in the end, no matter how we spin the story, someone got hurt. The problem is real, and the problem is severe. We suffer the consequences of the past choices we have made in our lives.
*(My four beautiful children. I could not imagine them going through the bullying I experienced)
It eats me up inside thinking about what I had to endure as a child, and now raising four children of my own. I have taught them to take a stand, to be strong, and to always come to me with anything and everything. I have an open door policy in my home, and bullying is a discussion my husband and I bring up often (if not daily) with all of our children. We encourage a positive environment and encourage them to select the right friends and to be slow to speak. Children say and do hurtful things that they think will not affect themselves or others later, but it really does. It affected me, and I am thirty years old now. I completely support this movie and this campaign 100%, because the problem is real and as parents, we need to stop pulling the wool over our heads and start facing reality. Times are much different (and much worse) now than they were 15-20 years ago. We must take a stand to protect our children and our children's future. Take the stand with me and show your support. Stop bullying.