They say it takes a village to raise a child and according to Long Beach parents, students and community members, ending bullying is no different.
In recognition of the Season for Nonviolence campaign, the Long Beach Public Library and its partners screened “Bully,” a documentary on peer-to-peer bullying in schools last Saturday. The film was followed by a panel discussion that included Panelists included Melissa Carr, national director for the Orange County & Long Beach Anti-Defamation League; Kyle Bullock, youth program coordinator at The Center in Long Beach; Michelle Molina, CEO and owner of PeaceBuilders; and Teresa Gomez, Human Dignity program coordinator.
The library’s sponsorship partners included Councilmember Suja Lowenthal, The Human Dignity Program, PeaceBuilders and VoiceWaves.
Bully follows the lives of five students in the Midwest who face bullying on a daily basis. The film premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival and has been visiting film festival circuits across the globe since.
The movie brought out so many different emotions in 90 minutes. At several points, tears fell for most faces that were watching. One particular part of the film that was most emotional was hearing a mother describe the morning she found her son hanging from his closet rail. Her son committed suicide because he was bullied.
Thirty-five percent of students in grades K to 8 said they experiences some sought of bullying according a national survey of students in grade school as cited by panelist Carr.
Perry Lindsey International Studies Magnet in Long Beach stated that 30 percent of 6th to 10th graders report moderate to frequent involvement in bullying.
Perry Lindsey also reports repeated bullying leads to 10 percent of all dropouts and bullies are 4 times more likely to be convicted of a crime by age 24.
After the film screening, members of the community, including many parents and teachers, shared their opinions on the movie and how it related to Long Beach.
“It is a natural fit for the library because Long Beach is so diverse and gay-friendly, but we have a lot of girl-on-gril bullying,” said Francisco Vargas, youth services officer for Long Beach Public Library. “The library is like Switzerland because it’s neutral on issues but we do a good job at giving the public the information. The public decides how to interpret it.”
Community members at the discussion, like community leader Sambo Sak, encouraged restorative justice and circles to be put into place at our schools instead for just suspending the bully. Parents at the event encouraged each other to have open dialogue with their children and their children’s teachers.
For more information on the movie, go HERE. For more information on screenings in Long Beach, see the flyer below.