Bullying Prevention Aimed at Interventions and Treatment for Potential Bullies
Topic: Cyberbullying and a Review of the Movie ‘A Girl Like Her’
Bullying is perhaps more prevalent than ever given the amount of resources and options available to a bully to take advantage of a potential victim. Many schools have some sort of bullying prevention in place, but with the increase in incidents of bullying in the schools that continue despite these prevention programs, one can’t help but wonder where we went wrong.
Teens are being bullied every day, not only at school and in the classroom, but online- through social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, messaging apps, and email. Just like everything else with the internet- once it’s put out there, it can’t be taken back. The cruel and abusive language of bullies remains online for all to see, with the victim helpless to take it down or get rid of it (or to forget it).
There are many groups of devoted people working to tackle and end bullying on school campuses and online, but there is always more to be done. One recent effort is the production of a documentary type movie (the movie is fiction, but very close to reality for most high school students) ‘A Girl Like Her’ directed by Amy S. Weber. The movie follows a high school sophomore as she is relentlessly tormented by one of the popular girls at school. The bullying escalates and ends with the victim attempting suicide by swallowing a handful of pills.
Theatrical Preview for A Girl Like Her available here:
The movie manages to create empathy for the bully (the character Avery Keller) and highlights one very important take away:
Bullying will continue to occur until adequate intervention and treatment is provided for the bullies.
Where most efforts fall short is that they usually call for treatment and support for victims, and fail to acknowledge the need to intervene in a proactive manner with the bullies. Anyone is a potential victim, and as this movie highlights, even past best friends can become the next victim for a bully. Until we are able to extinguish the pain felt by the bully, they will continue to inflict pain on others. To quote a parent from the movie, “Hurt people hurt other people.”
HeadFirst counseling provides therapy services for children and teens in the Dallas area identified as a bully or a potential bully, with treatment focusing on behavior modification, empathy development, and identification and expression of feelings. We have found that the majority of students who become bullies have some type of pain and sadness in their background. This pain can take many forms, but is often caused by social/friend conflicts, family conflict or domestic violence, low self-esteem, and childhood trauma, abuse or neglect.
When we are able to build the self-worth and self-esteem of these students, their need to gain power, control, attention, and intimidation of others decreases as they are getting these needs met in a more prosocial way.
If we are able to take the bullies out of the equation, we no longer have to focus on building up the victims. By building empathy and acceptance in one teenager, you have the power to potentially save many lives. That’s a task we are willing to try to take on but we need your help. Talk to your teen. Ask them about school, their friends, and what they may be struggling with. Showing that you care and are involved will decrease the likelihood that your child will bully other students.
If you have concerns about the safety of your child, as a bully or a possible victim, contact a therapist at HeadFirst Counseling by calling (469) 665-9416 to set up an intake appointment.
A Girl Like Her the movie is available for viewing on Netflix or iTunes and has been deemed a “MUST WATCH for all parents” by HeadFirst Counseling founder and therapist, Laura McLaughlin.
More information about A Girl Like Her and bullying prevention methods can be found at www.agirllikehermovie.com.