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David and Tina Long wanted answers following their son’s 2009 suicide so they held a townhall meeting to address the bullying suffered by Tyler and his classmates. Though well-attended by parents, students, and community leaders alike, Bully highlights a troubling absence – school officials. It’s a sign that climate change is needed.
You see, bullying is an environmental problem. As director Lee Hirsch puts it:
It’s the whole ecosystem of the schools.
Everyone has a stake. It’s not just bullies and the students they target. It’s students who witness incidents. It’s teachers and administrators with the power to intervene. It’s nurses and counselors dealing with the physical and emotional tolls taken. It’s parents trying to get through to their children. It’s community groups who simply want to help. It’s bus drivers:
To support [Bully], [First Student] is working with The Bully Project to help transport 1 million students across the country to see the movie in theaters. Following the film, a trained facilitator will lead a discussion about bullying and bullying prevention.
It’s also not paying lip service to the problem. It’s a genuine interest in making it better now and sustaining those solutions in the future. James Wendorf, Executive Director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities:
It’s having those supports, having those personnel there, but also having them prepared and trained in the right way is absolutely critical.
When we’re out of sync or insincere, you get school officials who skip a townhall. You get a student at that same townhall who says:
It’s a shame that [Tyler Long] had to do this for anybody to notice.
Note: Generally the Policy Corner is about legislative advocacy, where I write to you as a Senior Policy Analyst in the Public Policy department at People For the American Way.