Finding Kind campaign puts spotlight on girl-on-girl bullying
January 17, 2012
By Tom Corrigan
There is no doubt that bullying in schools is a hot topic right now. There is a decided difference, however, in how girls bully each other as compared to boys, said Page Meyer, assistant principal at Beaver Lake Middle School.
Meyer was one of the driving forces behind bringing an independent documentary concerning girl-on-girl bullying to the Issaquah School District.
Created by two graduates of Pepperdine University, the focus of “Finding Kind” is showing girls they are not alone should they find themselves feeling bullied and isolated, said one of the film’s two co-creators, Lauren Parsekian.
Parsekian can speak from direct experience. As a result of bullying in the seventh grade, Parsekian tried to take her own life. Now 25, she and film partner Molly Thompson, 24, travel the country, leading discussions after showings of their film.
The two also have launched the Kind Campaign, aimed at those who are bullied, but also the bullies themselves as well as the bystanders who may feel powerless to do anything to change bad situations.
Meyer said she first saw “Finding Kind” at the Seattle International Film Festival. One of her jobs as assistant principal is to help cut down on bullying at her school. Upon seeing the movie, Meyer said she immediately felt bringing the film to Issaquah would be beneficial.
According to Meyer, girls tend to be more “covert” in their bullying and attacks on other girls. Guys will slug and kick each other and move on, for the most part, Meyer said. For girls, the bullying may go on for long periods of time and take a number of different forms. The bullied girl may find herself isolated, ignored by people she believed to be friends. The bully may mount a gossip campaign to hurt the other girl, more and more commonly using social Internet sites.
“It happens, it happens here in the Issaquah School District,” Meyer said.
Like Parsekian, Thompson said she can speak from experience about what it is like to be bullied by other girls.
“Together, we just wanted to create something that would help kids across the country,” Thompson said. “I don’t want anyone to suffer the way I did, the way we did.”
Unfortunately, Parsekian said experience has shown them about nine out of 10 kids who see “Finding Kind” can recall some time when they have been bullied.
“It’s really sad that such a large population is suffering,” she added.
If you go
The Kind Campaign and the film discussions give girls the chance to vent their frustrations and, perhaps most importantly, realize they are not alone, Thompson said. Too many young girls believe the bullying will never end, that the bad feelings will continue the rest of their lives.
“They need to realize this is just a small chapter in their lives,” Thompson added.
Thompson said she believes the Kind Campaign is effective partly because she and Parsekian are close in age to the girls who watch the film. They are more peers than parents or teachers, she said.
At Beaver Lake school, Meyer said students are encouraged to report incidents of bullying whether they are the victim or a witness. Counselors investigate and, if needed, Meyer said she will get involved. In dealing with the issue, Meyer said she believes the next step, at least at her school, is empowering bystanders to intervene. She said she is working with students to form a campaign that hopefully will make that happen.
Especially at the middle school level, various PTSA councils and the Issaquah Schools Foundation made the coming screenings and the after-film discussions possible, Meyer said. She emphasized no specific incident had her seeking out the “Finding Kind” film.
“It’s not because it’s happening more,” Meyer said of bullying in local schools. “I do think people are becoming more familiar with it, there is lots of education going on and people are talking about it. And I think that’s important.”
Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.