Click above to hear the song, “We Don’t Do That Here,” performed by Sid Krupkin Thursday night at Concord Mills AMC after a pre-screening of the movie Bully.
In its continued efforts to raise awareness of bullying and teach bullying prevention, the Foundation for Respect Ability, a Cornelius-based anti-bullying organization, on Thursday night hosted a private pre-screening of the movie “Bully” followed by a panel discussion.
Directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, Bully is a character-driven documentary that follows five children and their families as they struggle with the effects of bullying over the course of a school year.
About 70 people turned out at Concord Mills AMC for the preview, including parents, students, grandparents, educators, administrators and community leaders. As the movie ended, the room was filled with the sounds of applause – and sniffles. For many, the issues portrayed on the big screen hit close to home.
But the movie was not a sob story, it was a call to action – an effort to unite communities in a movement against bullying. And, as the last line in the movie says: “Everything starts with one.”
Panelists for the question-and-answer session after the film included:
- John Concelman, a CMS educator who is working on character development with an emphasis on bullying and harassment prevention. He works with schools using multi-dimensional assessment data to help identify strengths and challenges that can be addressed through positive school climates. He has extensive training in youth gang awareness and prevention, and has worked closely with CMPD Gang of One in their efforts for local gang resistance.
- Dr. Lucretia Watson-Collins, a former principal and current educational leadership professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Watson-Collins is an expert who has done extensive research on bullying and related issues. She is also a Board Member with the Foundation for Respect Ability.
- Sharon Green, an associate professor of theater at Davidson College where she teaches a course in Theatre and Social Justice, among others. Her article, “The Defenders: How Theatres are Shedding Light on Bullying’s Devastating Effects and Giving Kids Tools for Coping,” is forthcoming in the May issue of American Theatre.
They offered insight and fielded questions from impassioned audience members. Some had children in school, others had children transitioning into new schools, and others had grown children or grandchildren.
“Why are the teachers not mandated to take these (bullying prevention) courses?” one woman, a grandmother, asked.
Research shows that 3/4 of the time, when a child reports bullying, adults do nothing, according to Dr. Watson-Collins.
As evocative and difficult-to-watch as the movie scenes depicting actual bullying were, perhaps even more disturbing were the scenes showing the lack of adults’ response to bullying – a clueless assistant principal and a negligent bus driver among them.
N.C. House Representative for District 103 Bill Brawley, who was in the audience, said bullying is “predatory behavior,” and adults need to do more to send the message that it will not be tolerated.
“At what point do we start to interdict predatory behavior after first detection?” he asked.
Some schools are doing a better job with bullying prevention than others, Mr. Concelman said, and he and others are working to communicate and share ideas that work across the district.
The evening concluded with two songs performed by Sid Krupkin, an educator and songwriter who uses music as a way to connect with and inspire students to do the right thing. He is education director with the Foundation. (Click on the image at the top of the page to hear the song, “We Don’t Do That Here.”)
The common theme of the movie, discussion, research and music was that bullying prevention is not accomlished through punishment, but instead with individuals standing up for each other – turning bystanders into “upstanders,” as the Foundation’s mission says.
The movie preceded the Foundation’s “Lunch and Learn” Friday, that focused on cyber bullying and prevention.
PARENT UNIVERSITY LOOKS AT CYBER-BULLYING
Also Friday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Parent University held a workshop at Bailey Middle School on cyber bullying. Presented by The FAITH Initiative (Families Allowing Intervention to Heal) within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the workshop provided information on cyber bullying prevention as well as what to do if bullying occurs.
Much of the message was the same as that heard from the Foundation event the night before: That bullying prevention is not the result of punishment for actions, but instead, it takes students and parents working together to communicate problems and work together to prevent them.
“The PD cannot solve this problem, we can’t protect your kids,” presenter Willie Thomas said to the parents. “The person that will have the most influence in fixing this problem is the person you see when you look in the mirror.”