This is my daughter Katie. Many of you know her from Disney Meet & Greets, Foodie Fest, or in the Chat room when Lou Mongello is running a podcast. Katie is a bright, vivacious, and somewhat precocious young lady who loves Disney, Anime, and World of Warcraft. She is perfectly socialized with adults, much to their astonishment, however when it comes to kids her own age, not so much. You see from grades 2-5 Katie became the victim of serious bullying at her public school. She is one of over 13 million American kids that are bullied each year. A victim of the most common form of violence young people in the U.S. experience.
At 10 Years old Katie no longer felt safe in the world, she was plagued with nightmares, was acting out at home, and did everything she could to never have to go to school. Three weeks before the end of her 5th Grade year, I reached my breaking point, and I fear we were very close to hers as well. When she was beat up in class in front of her teacher and no one did anything about it, I pulled her out of public school.
I am proud to support Bully, a film directed by Sundance- and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch. Bully is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary—at its heart are those with the most at stake and whose stories each represent a different facet of this bullying crisis. The film confronts bullying’s most tragic outcomes, including the stories of two families who’ve lost children to suicide. With rare access to the Sioux City Community School District, the film also gives an intimate glimpse into school buses, classrooms, cafeterias and even principles offices, offering insight into the often-cruel world of children, as teachers, administrators and parents struggle to find answers.
I'm really happy to tell you that after two years of homeschooling and therapy, Katie no longer has nightmares and doesn't start every day in fear. She's still relearning her social skills, and not all of her anxiety has disappeared, but we work on it. She's a volunteer at our local children's museum, a member of the DeMolay Sweetheart court and even socializes occasionally with some of her former bullies (who have matured over the past couple of years). It does get better, but you really have to be proactive with your kids when it comes to bullies. Listen to your children, trust them when they try to tell you something is wrong. Our kids spend so much time away from us at school, but today's teachers are stretched to their limits and you just can't count on them to watch out for your kid.
I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Find showings in your area for The Bully Project and buy tickets here. Yes, it's rated R, but if your kids are junior high age or older, or if you think you child might be the victim of a bully. Take your kids and shine a light on how this effects them, their friends and their families. No one should have to suffer a bully.