By Jenny Schaeffer, SWSG Pittsburgh Program Intern
Lately, it seems as if adolescent bullying and its detrimental consequences are “famous.” With his new film, Bully, documentary film director Lee Hirsch gives audience members insight into shocking real life cases; bringing renewed fame to an issue effecting 13 million kids in the United States. News outlets blast heart-wrenching stories of bullying epidemics; politicians campaign for and sign new anti-bullying legislation into law; and while school communities are often blamed for fueling bullying, there are also schools & community programs throughout the nation scrambling to develop and sustain effective platforms to combat bullying. Despite these efforts, bullying remains commonplace. If reality television has taught us anything, it’s that being “famous” never fully represents pertinence. It is time for us to take a new approach as we attempt to tackle this “famous” problem. We must take the spotlight off the symptoms of bullying, and turn it on ourselves.
In the recent article, “Bullying Starts At Home,” Rev. Romal J. Tune argues that our own actions and methods of discipline have the power to mold our adolescents into bullies. Tune contends,
“When parents bully at home to get what they want, they legitimize using threats and intimidation as normal behavior for their children. As a result, kids who are bullied by parents or family members turn around and do the same to their peers. Many kids in school cafeterias and playgrounds become victims at the hands of children who just left homes in which bullying is practiced.”
If we truly desire to work against the adverse effects of bullying to ensure the safety and well-being of all community members, we must assess everyone’s capacity to contribute to this problem.  If bullying is a learned behavior, passed on from generation to generation, school yard to classroom, or from Facebook to real social networks, we have the power to stop it. Shucks, thanks to punitive budget cuts we have halted the teaching of the arts, languages, physical education, & more; yet we claim it is impossible for us to eliminate this detrimental behavior!
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Each year one vicious habit rooted out, in time, might make the worst man good throughout.” While it may be idealist to think that we can completely root out this problem by changing our behavior as adults, we must hold ourselves accountable for the issue of bullying, before it conquers us.
What do you think about bullying? What will it take to eliminate bullying in schools? And how can we all contribute to the solution?