Sunday, May 31, 2015

     














     Yesterday, Mr. Wonderful and I had the unforgettable experience of viewing a video called, A Girl Like Her. Our daughter, Katey McPherson, served on a panel after the film viewing to discuss the topic of bullying. The film was engaging and eye-opening, and it is one that every parent should see as well as every educator and administrator. The story of a young woman who was bullied to the point of attempting to take her life is not just fiction in our day; it is a grim reality that can destroy not only the lives of the victim’s family, but it can traumatize those who witness it. As a former educator, I thought to myself, “Wow, a teacher’s job just keeps getting bigger and more frightening.” 

     A few things jumped out at me about the film. The first was that bullies are hurting, and that’s why they hurt. Somehow we must get to the bully and try to find her help before the victims multiply. In the film, the bully’s followers were as traumatized as she was once she was discovered. Getting to the bully is no easy task, and we all know there are some students with mental health issues who are beyond the reach of their own parents and certainly their teachers. But for those who can be reached, something must be done--a system must be put in place before they attack, not after the fact. 

     I left the theatre wanting to help. At my age, I don’t know if there is anything I can do on a daily basis, but I felt a call to action. Mr. W. and I were both very moved by the tragic story depicted in the film (a true story), and my daughter told us this is typical of what she witnesses in schools today. She will be offering a huge event in August for parents to teach them all the different apps that are available to their children and how to monitor them. I hope to be there to learn myself and maybe even to take part in the program.

     There are apps where kids can bully each other online anonymously. These are perhaps the most dangerous and insidious. Kids are saying cruel things to others, and the recipient doesn’t even know who sent the message. This does not even touch the topic of predators, pedophiles who stalk such sites. The whole idea frightens me to death.

     Victims spoke yesterday, parents cried, experts warned. It was an amazing, thought-provoking morning, and I was thrilled to see almost 200 people in attendance. My daughter said, “We are playing catch-up with all the technology out there.” As the tech world is changing by the second, it worries me that the kids will be a step ahead of us.

     My feelings have gotten hurt by e-mail, and I can get offended when someone doesn’t return my e-mail. It’s a whole new world--a world that is complex and dangerous. I love my phone, I-pad and computer, and I see the marvelous advantages daily, but when I realize the damage that it can cause, it gives me pause.

    One man said, “People who hurt, hurt people.” Let’s find the hurting people and get them help.