Bully movie opens Friday, March 30th - Waking Up Courage is the Solution to Stopping Bullying

March 27 2012


by Rick Phillips, Executive Director of Community Matters

The new movie Bully by writer/director Lee Hirsch opens Friday, March 30th in major cities nationwide. The film documents bullying between real kids and outlines both the extent of the bullying epidemic and the devastating consequences that far too often lead young people to hurt themselves and others.

While I applaud the intention of those who have created this powerful film and I’m encouraged by the likely national outcry that will follow, I am compelled to speak up and say that’s not enough. We need to “seize the day” and maximize the opportunity. We need to spark a national dialogue about what we can do to change the conditions. We must identify effective strategies, resources and solutions, if we are going to have any hope of stopping the growing virus of bullying that is infecting our children.

We can’t legislate intolerance away and we can’t punish our children into being compassionate. Bullying is a people problem and the solution is not going to be found in the enactment of a law or a policy. The best solution to stop bullying is by “waking up courage” in every young person and adult bystander, and encouraging them to stand up and speak up against bullying in all its forms. We must challenge our schools to take bold action and mobilize and enroll the student bystanders, as they are our best hope for stopping and ending the bullying epidemic.

That’s exactly what many young people are doing every day in our schools nationwide. For more than a decade, Community Matters has been equipping and empowering diverse student leaders through the Safe School Ambassadors program (SSA) to speak up when they see or hear their peers do or say mean and hurtful things. Safe School Ambassadors has been implemented in over 900 schools in North America, with over 60,000 students trained to safely and effectively intervene when bullying occurs.

We want to spread the message that in spite of the extent of bullying in our nation’s schools and communities, solutions do exist – in the form of programs like Safe School Ambassadors that teach children and teens the importance of standing up for the targets of aggression, challenging the aggressors to change their behavior, and creating a culture of inclusion and respect for all.

Take Action: See the movie, use it as fuel to energize you and everyone you know. As a nation we must wake up our own courage, raise our voices, and speak up when we witness intolerance or injustice. And we must support our schools in implementing programs like SSA that harness the power of our youth.

Together, “each one reaching one”, we will create a social “tipping point”, and this wave of social justice and activism will help every school and community become places where all children feel welcome, safe and included.

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