On Tuesday night, March 29th, I was lucky enough to speak with seven very intelligent teens about a recent video that had been posted to YouTube. The video was created by 13-year-old Alye Pollack of Westport, Connecticut. Throughout the video, Alye, never uttering a word, shows a series of handwritten signs to a camera, which outline her ongoing experience with bullying. Now in the eighth grade, Alye reports that the bullying began in the sixth grade, and that the words used to torture her hurt as badly as a physical altercation might. Her silence is intense and the video is a poignant reminder of the pain our teens experience, and a powerful message to teens, parents, school officials….all of us really.
During the roundtable discussion, the teens, who ranged in age from 12-19, and were from a diverse background, shared their stories of experiencing bullying, witnessing bullying, and their sad sense that bullying will never actually end. They had very powerful reactions to the video and were very open during the discussion. In face, they all reported feeling relief at being able to openly discuss the topic and expressed the wish that they could do it more often. It seems, surprisingly, that their school do not have a lot of bullying support. Most of the participants believed that more needed to be done.
They all were able to talk about what “should” be done. When pushed to think about what they would actually do, they often got stymied. It seems as though we aren’t providing enough practical answers and skills to teens so that they really know what they could do. This is an area that needs ongoing exploration and implementation, for certain.
Below is the clip from the segment. I’m really proud to have been a part of it, even if the hour we spent together had to be edited down to 2 minutes.
What are your thoughts?