Bullying: ‘Meaning to be mean’
By Dean Shipley
Bullying is meaning to be mean.
So said Tyler Gregory Thursday, Jan. 24 to fifth-graders at Madison-Plains Intermediate school. He and his partner, Scott Hannah, took their presentation, “No Bull” to the school for all students to learn more about eradication of bullying.
Hands flew up all over the library when the question was asked who has been bullied. Bullying is a common occurrence which can take many forms and advanced not only in person but on the Internet through cyberbullying. It often slides along unreported for a number of reasons.
Gregory said bullying is not only being mean to someone but meaning to be mean.
Gregory admitted himself he once was a bully and it involved Hannah, his group of friends and another girl, who was outside that group, who Hannah liked.
“We were jealous,” Gregory said. She was taking Hannah away from group.
“We judged her and were making fun of her and posting mean things on Facebook,” Gregory said.
Then someone called the girl and said go kill yourself.
When he found out that message was sent, Gregory said “I started to feel guilty. What if she went through with it?”
Other thoughts cycled through his head: She could be going through a rough time.
“I felt terrible, ” he said. “I didn’t want to be involved in it.”
His guilt and abhorrence of the entire scenario turned him 180 degrees and he began a campaign against bullying. Then, another bullying incident, which resulted in the bullycide of Jamey Rodermyer, kicked him and Hannah in the pants and inspired them to create their No Bull video. They made a video with an anti-bullying message and entered in the Great American No Bull Challenge.
It scored in the top 15 in the national contest and won a special award. So special it afforded them an opportunity to hobnob celebrities in California. Gregory and Hannah were clearly fueled by their celebrity experience and did their best to ignite some excitement in the Madison-Plains audience to create their own entries to the Great American No Bull Challenge.
They said when they were making the video, they received criticism. To repel the critics they crafted a response,”This ain’t your dream.”
Gregory and Hannah had the students repeat the reply, which they did vigorously.
The pair also advised the students about bullying. Name calling, and return name calling is written on Facebook and in texts or spoken on phone messages on a cellphone. Hannah and Gregory advise students if they’re called a name, don’t “fight fire with fire” by name calling back.
“Fight fire with water,” Gregory said. Either keep the mouth shut or reply by saying, “do you have to do that?”
Also don’t post anything on the Internet you don’t want people to see.
“It’s a train wreck,” he said.
Hannah said since they have now achieved some notoriety for their campaign, they receive messages on their Facebook pages. One message from a girl was particularly sad. After she explained her situation, he advised her to tell an adult, specifically in this case, her school principal.
“If you have a problem, go to the principal,” Hannah said. He said ignore the attitude “on the street” nobody likes a snitch.
“It’s OK to be a snitch if your life is miserable,” he said.
Hannah said the principal’s investigation lead to an expulsion of a student and three student suspensions and a much happier girl.
“She’s better,” Hannah said.
Gregory and Hannah believe every student would be better if, when he or she experiences bullying, either directly or as a witness, parents are informed of the incident. Often students feel embarrassed to go to an adult or they’re afraid. They should ignore those feelings in the interest of getting help for the issue.
“They love you and want to help you,” Gregory said.
It may take more than once.
“If nothing happens, talk to them again,” he said.
Fifth grader Chris Ernst said he knows bullying is bad and was interested in making a video like the one Hannah and Gregory presented. The contest is open to sixth graders but Ernst felt now is the time to begin working on it.
Fifth grader Bryce Fox said bullying is really bad and can hurt people.
“It’s inspired me to help people that are being bullied,” he said.