She’s an eighth-grader in Connecticut, a dark-haired, pale girl with sad eyes and an ache in her heart. She hurt so bad that she turned to the Internet to dramatically demonstrate to people the scope of her troubles.
She’s a victim of bullying.
The girl named Alye wasn’t ready to give in to the bullying she claimed has been going on since she was a sixth-grader, so she made a three-minute video using only handwritten poster boards to communicate her plight and posted it on YouTube under the title, “Words Are Worse Than Sticks and Stones.”
The video has drawn close to 460,000 views as of this writing.
(www.youtube.com/watch?v=37_ncv79fLA; Alye’s poster boards are transcribed on page 12.)
The message Alye conveys is powerful said Dan Miller, a counselor at Marana Middle School. Miller took part in a group viewing of Alye’s video last week along with school principal Allison Murphy, Ed.D, and 10 eighth-grade students. That message is about needing help, he noted, but not immediately finding it among schoolmates, family, friends or school officials.
The Marana students sat silently during the video screening in the school’s media room, intently watching the unfolding drama on the screen, yet had plenty to say afterward about Alye and her situation.
(The Explorer is only using the students’ first names in order to protect their privacy.)
“All the things she said happened are so bad, I can’t believe people would do that to her,” said Tristen. “But you can see all the sadness she’s suffering through.”
Thomas said he thought, “It’s probably not the whole school (bullying her), but only a small bunch of kids, maybe mostly two or three kids.” Yet, he added, being bullied every day as Alye seems to have been, would be hard to take.
Kortnee characterized the situation as “really sad that this can happen in everyday situations to people and you don’t realize it’s happening.”
Bridgett felt moved to do something about the situation. “It makes me want to reach out to other kids and look around to see if that’s happening in our school or in other schools where I could help the kids out,” she said.
Courtney wondered where Alye’s few friends were. “It’s kind of sad that she has only three or four friends and none of them are sticking up for her or defending her,” Courtney said.
Nikki echoed that sentiment, but added, “The school really didn’t help her all that much either.”
When the group was asked, if each of them had a friend in a situation like Alye’s, would they stick up for her, everyone unhesitatingly answered, “Yeah!”
Travis pointed out that it was difficult to spot the fact Alye had been bullied.
“People can put on faces or something like the fake smile she used in the beginning of the video,” Travis said, “so you don’t really know what she’s going through.”
Gus noted that getting involved with others could be a good first step to take. “I think the next time that people see someone sitting by themselves, they might go over and talk to that kid and ask them how their day has been,” Gus said.
Hayley was moved enough by the video to want to help others in similar circumstances. “It makes me want to look around and see if that’s happening here and how I could help,” Hayley said.
Jordan felt the video might be a turning point for Alye. “I think people will realize how much pain she’s going through, and that her smile is hiding how she feels and that she’s really hurting inside,” Jordan said. “People will reach out and help her.”
Asked if any of them had been the victims of bullying, each of the students said “no.” But how would they handle it if they were bullied?
“I would have gone to counselors or the principal at school or someone else I could trust, like a teacher,” Thomas said.
Gus would have told his parents, siblings, teachers and counselors. “I’d tell everyone who could help,” he added.
Jordan said she would have gone to her parents and teachers “because they usually have a good solution to any of your problems.”
Murphy asked the group how the principal of the school should handle the situation.
Travis suggested calling a school assembly and showing the video to get kids talking about bullying and its consequences. Gus thought more monitors in classrooms and open areas would be a help to discourage bullying.
Miller pointed out that Marana Middle School teaches anti-bullying lessons for all students, teaching kids not to bully and how not to be a victim.
“When someone is bullied, we do a lot of mediation and one-on-one,” Miller said. “A lot of times the bullied individual talks to the person who is bullying them and when the bully sees how much it really hurts, they do tend to back off.”
Miller noted that kids sometimes are flippant about the use of words and don’t realize how much damage those words can do.
“But after a one-on-one where the person explains to them how much it does hurt, they usually come to a mutual agreement that this kind of thing needs to stop,” he noted.
Hayley’s take on bullying went to the heart of the issue. “When people bully, they say mean words and other things, but don’t know how much they hurt,” she said. “It’s sad how people who are bullied can really hurt inside and not show it, but still go home crying.”
Words are worse than sticks and stones
Hi, my name is Alye
I am in 8th grade
Do I look happy (drawn smiley face) (Alye smiles)
Well, I’m not (drawn frown face)
I’ve been like this since 6th grade
I don’t have many friends. 3? 4?
I am bullied. Not a day has gone by without one of these words
Bit**, Whore, Fat, Lesbo, Slut, Freak, Ugly, Weird, Fag
I don’t cut. But I’m close . . .
I’m in therapy/guidance more than
I like my school, just not the kids
Will high school get worse???????
THINK before you say things. IT MIGHT SAVE . . .
Don’t be a KILLER
STICKS & STONES?
WORDS DO HURT
THINK, THIS COULD BE YOU .......
(drawn frown face)