Nicole was in the audience and I wanted so much not to embarrass her, but within minutes I was in tears. I saw girls, boys, and chaperones openly weeping. Every story touched a chord, snowballing into more emotion.
If meanness and hate are ingrained, albeit unfortunate parts of human nature, we must create communities that reinforce our other natural tendencies toward kindness and against meanness.
Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) have reintroduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act, vitally important legislation that is modeled on Title IX that would create a comprehensive prohibition against discrimination against LGBT students in our nation's public schools.
It's very popular right now to talk about bullying. But it is way past time to start talking about misogynist bullying as a separate category of abuse aimed at young girls, and as something that requires a separate cure.
In our fast-paced highly connected world, we see all too often abuse of the Internet as a means for wide-spread gossip, lies and hurtful behavior. How beautiful it is indeed when the energy of this powerful tool can be harnessed to promote healing and friendship.
Bullies can now take their hurt to a whole new level. Now they can hide behind screens. Now they can use words that are considered profane and hide behind false avatars and fake user names. Now they can post about you and have thousands of responses from around the globe in minutes.
In the classroom I held my own and in the music department I excelled, but these things didn't really matter at our school; esteem was earned by athletic prowess and nothing else.
Now, more than ever, we need to create more "upstanders" and not only among our youth, but in partnership with parents, school staff, and finally, the whole community.
Classroom teachers have everything to do with stopping bullying. There. I said it. The teachers who are making a difference in the movement to stop bullying are engaged role models of kindness and expert masters of diplomacy.
What is instinctual is empathy -- the ability to understand how other people are feeling and to take their feelings into consideration when dealing with them.
Sometimes, a movie is just a movie, but what happens when a movie becomes a movement? Bully touched me in a profound way, not only because it made me reflect on my own life, but also on the life of my daughter.
How could I have done such a thing? What kind of awful, evil person was I? And what would my parents think if they knew -- and how would they punish me?
Kids can be mean. Perhaps it's part of their exploration of boundaries and their power in social circles. As parents, we can teach our own kids the importance of kindness, respect and treating others as we want them to be treated. And, we can guide them to stand up to bullies.
It's pretty safe to say that it's harder to hide from the bullies than it may have been 20 or 30 years ago. Some kids have to face it not only for seven hours at school, but also every hour beyond that because of the constant contact that can be made via text message or social media.
Harassment and bullying are cyclical. Harassers and bullies have often been harassed or bullied themselves. A safe and supportive school culture and climate is critical to avoiding violence at school.
I worry whether our well meaning desire to combat bullying could lead to an even bigger problem by branding children who misbehave as criminals instead of using other methods to create a more civil and compassionate environment for our children.