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‘Finding Kind’ calls out ‘mean girls’
Sometime during childhood most of us were consoled by an adult using the familiar children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
Trouble is, it’s simply not true.
Bainbridge Youth Services Tara Murphy, who is finishing up her master’s in psychology, said that while “relational aggression” may be more subtle than the type of power struggles males engage in, “the harm is not very subtle.”
In 2009, two Pepperdine University students who were still dealing with the effects of bullying from their high school years, decided to make a documentary to help bring awareness to the problem.
“Finding Kind” is the result of a cross country roadtrip where filmmakers Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson interviewed people about the the issue of “girl-on-girl bullying.”
Intrigued by the trailer, Bainbridge Island resident Susan Harman Bass went to Seattle to see a screening, only to find that it was sold out. She logged on to the “Finding Kind” website to see where else it was playing and learned she could organize a screening here on Bainbridge.
About the same time, the board of Bainbridge Cooperative Nursery School (BCNS) was looking for creative ideas for a fundraiser and Harman Bass suggested showing “Finding Kind.”
An early start
And while a film about ‘tween and teen bullying may not seem like a logical vehicle for a preschool fundraiser, Judi Neumann, Program Director for BCNS can connect the dots pretty easily.
“We see them [middle school and high school students] playing out the same issues as my kids only they’re doing it with technology,” she said.
“Cyber-bullying” – nasty emails, Facebook sabotage, text messages are the sticks and stones that young people use to assert power.
“The onset of aggressive behavior starts around 4 years old,” Neumann said. “It doesn’t suddenly appear.”
Neumann is a proponent of “anti-bias” education, that is helping young children understand how to voice their preferences in socially acceptable ways.
“At a very young age children develop likes and dislikes,” she said. “They might say another child can’t play with them because they’re wearing green or they don’t like their face. We need to have conversations with children about how differences are OK.”
Culture of perfection
The Bainbridge Island School District has an eight-page anti-bullying policy.
So it’s not a problem on Bainbridge, right?
“I think it is,” Murphy said, drawing on her experience with the girls who seek out counseling at Bainbridge Youth Services.
“There’s an island culture and a level of investment to make everything OK,” she said. “Which means some might not seek help when they need it.”
“Girls are generally more covert,” Neumann said. “Boys will just blast you, but girls are a little more subtle.”
Bainbridge Youth Services will facilitate a post-film discussion and offer resources for those who want to learn more.
On Thursday, Hyla students will have a chance to talk about the movie with counselor Kris Rogers and teacher Kim Trick.
For parents, the Just Know Coalition will devote its Nov. 15 meeting to the topic. The public is invited from 7:15-8:45 p.m. in the 300 building at Bainbridge High School. For more information, visit www.justknow.org.
Two screenings of “Finding Kind,” a documentary about girl against girl bullying, will be shown at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Bainbridge High School Theater LGI, 9330 High School Rd.
You can purchase tickets online at eventbrite.com for $10, or at the door for $15 and 50 percent of ticket sales will support Bainbridge Cooperative Nursery School (BCNS).
To learn more, visit www.bcnspreschool.org or www.findingkind.com.