Global retailer Sears is ramping up its efforts to curb bullying this coming school year, hoping to stem a violent trend that saw 13 million children throughout the country skip school — as many as 160,000 on any given school day — due to a fear of bullies.
“Team Up To Stop Bullying” is Sears’ multi-pronged initiative and action network, a “safe haven” for students, parents and educators to seek solutions to bullying.
Concerned parties can access “Team Up To Stop Bullying” online at www.sears.com/teamup.
“Team Up to Stop Bullying provides much-needed resources to parents, children, educators and communities — and will help Americans understand that bullying is a not a normal part of childhood,” said Team Up to Stop Bullying Managing Director Marie Newman, who is also a famed anti-bullying author. “Every seven minutes a child is bullied at school, and studies show that schools with an anti-bullying program see a decrease in bullying up to 50 percent. While there isn't one fix to every bullying problem, there are solutions and services that work. Now, for the first time, there is one simple place to connect to those solutions at sears.com/TeamUp.”
Sears has partnered with a nationwide, 55-member coalition to provide tips, research and other anti-bullying measures. Boys & Girls Clubs of America, anti-bullying book publisher Hazeldon, National PTA’s “Stand For Silent,” It Gets Better Project and End To Cyberbullying are just a few of the organizations to offer anti-bullying insights.
The website has easily-accessible content, broken down into broad sections for students and victims of bullying, families and educators; there is also a section dedicated to cyberbullying. Each section contains contacts to dozens of outlets and organizations that can help with a specific problem. Team Up To Stop Bullying also provides hotline and emergency support, along with online chat forums.
To support the cause, Sears will begin selling Team Up To Stop Bullying T-shirts at its stores for $9.99, and $3.75 of each sale will go toward DonorsChoose.org to fund The Bully Project’s “1 Million Kids” program. Sears is also sponsoring a “Super Back-To-School Saturday” anti-bullying themed sale; on Saturday, August 11. Shoppers can download a one-day only savings pass which is good for 15 percent off the total sale. Sears will donate up to $70,000 from that days’ sales to its coalition of anti-bullying organizations.
Team Up To Stop Bullying has also enlisted many popular entertainers to boost the program’s visibility. Marlo Thomas, the Kardashians, George Kotsiopoulos, Kyle Massey, Jennifer Veal, Bully movie director Lee Hirsch and others.
“When you’re on the front lines of bullying it’s hard to know where to turn to find immediate solutions,” said Lana Krauter, senior vice president and president of Sears Apparel. “Sears is proud to have created Team Up to Stop Bullying to help families and communities find solutions. We’ve built a tremendous coalition of partner organizations that, like Sears, raise their hand and say that children deserve to be protected and learn in safe environments.”
When trying to convince the School District of Philadelphia to screen a controversial movie to its students, it pays to have an advocate on your side — especially when that person is Kelly Hodge, the recently installed Safe Schools Advocate.
Councilman Jim Kenney — the primary force behind the effort to have the film “Bully” shown to middle school pupils — made a wise decision to include Hodge.
“I was invited to join this small working group that Kenney put together to try to share this movie with as wide an audience as possible. And from where I’m sitting, no one could say this movie is not an important subject matter,” Hodge said. “It deals with the issue of bullying in school districts around the country.”
“Bully,” directed by award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch and opening at the end of the month in New York City and Los Angeles, follows the lives of several students who were bullied (or were doing the bullying) for an entire school year, and brings in to stark reality the toll such behavior takes on the victim, the aggressor and their families.
But the movie, given its authentic subject matter and no-punches-pulled language, has received an “R” rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, precluding it from being considered by the district, spokesman Fernando Gallard said. Specifically, the “f-word” is used five times in “Bully,” landing the movie its “R” rating.
Still, for those who have seen the movie and support Kenney’s initiative, the utterance of a long-common curse word shouldn’t be the mitigating factor in this movie not being shown.
“ I saw it in its entirety. It’s very compelling and provides insight into what goes on with the students and how they feel, and how their parents feel,” said Hodge, both a former assistant district attorney in the juvenile division and a public defender. “You really can’t put it into words until you see it. I was happily surprised to see how the adults — teachers, administrators and other grownups — react when [bullying] is brought to their attention.”
But it won’t be brought to the attention of Philly’s school-aged youth if advocates can’t get the rating changed.
Kenney is doing everything in his power to have the movie screened — and to get the rating changed. To accomplish that, Kenney has set up petitions on Change.org and also posts regular updates through his Facebook page.
Kenney has also raised considerable funds to be used to pay for the showing if the R-rating is downgraded, sparing another expense for the cash-strapped district.
“We raised $10,000 from the Philadelphia Beverage Association,” Kenney said. “All it took was one ask, and they have responded very positively. It has also given us more credibility with other groups, so we shouldn’t have any trouble” raising enough money to cover the screening.
Kenney will join Hodge and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown — co-chair of council’s education committee and a strong supporter of this movement — for a special screening tomorrow, followed by a brief question-and-answer session.
Reynolds Brown recently acknowledged “Bully” has an uphill slough given its rating, but believes it to be a worthwhile film with a timely, paramount message.
“The over-arching purpose absolutely outweighs five words,” Reynolds Brown said. “Given the purpose and audience we’re trying to attract and inspire to not engage in this ugly activity, it does outweigh those words — and I fully stand by Councilman Kenney.”