Mean girls documentary shines light on female bullying
By Denise Crosby firstname.lastname@example.org September 15, 2012 7:02PM
The principal of Scullen Middle School in Naperville is inviting parents of daughters and sons to the showing of a film on “mean girls,” noting that boys "often are the catalysts of bullying among girls.” | Sun-Times Media Illustration
What: “Finding Kind” documentary on bullying by girls; open to public
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Scullen Middle School, 2815 Mistflower Lane, Naperville
To register: Call 630-428-7000
Updated: October 17, 2012 6:11AM
Maureen Quaid knows what it’s like to be the target of mean girls.
She was only 8 years old when her father died of a heart attack at age 42 in their South Holland home. Two years later, her mother, working in a warehouse, was murdered by an armed robber.
Surviving such a traumatic childhood, says Quaid, who now lives in Naperville, left her vulnerable to the cruelty of female classmates, who teased her about being an orphan, about living “in a haunted house” and being raised by her 18-year-old sister.
It’s no wonder Quaid was extra sensitive when her own two girls got into middle school, knowing full well social media has taken bullying to an even nastier level. So when her daughters began having problems with those inevitable mean girls, she began doing her research.
What she found was an incredibly powerful documentary called “Finding Kind” — created by two young women who, reacting to their own experiences, embarked on a nationwide quest to find out why and how girls behave as they do and the irreparable damage these mean girls can cause to their victims.
Quaid was so impressed with the documentary’s insight, she took “Finding Kind” to her children’s principal at Scullen Middle School in Naperville and asked if it would be possible to bring the film into their building. An anti-bullying campaign had been kicked off the previous year by Principal Mark Truckenbrod, and he immediately saw this film as a way of a partnering with parents, an integral but too often missing component of these school programs.
The result is that, with the help of the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association, the 77-minute “Finding Kind” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium of Scullen, also in partnership with the parent group at Crone Middle School.
While the documentary focuses on girls bullying girls, Truckenbrod encourages parents in the entire Indian Prairie School District and beyond to bring their middle and high school daughters and sons to the screening. Parents of younger children are also invited because as Quaid points out, “the mean girl phenomena starts years before they reach middle school.”
The film, and the discussion that will follow, not only will focus on the impact of cruel statements and action, it also will highlight how even those who stand back and do nothing — the silent majority — add to the problem.
This film helps empower us all to be aware of how hurtful words can be, and that by being kind, lives can be saved and lived healthier and happier, says Quaid.
Kids who attend can sit with their parents, Truckenbrod notes, but they can also bring blankets and hang with their friends during the event. He’d like those attending to register beforehand to provide an idea of a head-count. Refreshments will be served, and there will be dialogue at the end of the movie.
Call 630-428-7000. The school is at 2815 Mistflower Lane in Naperville.
Truckenbrod says it’s not that there are more mean girls than in the days the rest of us were navigating the hallways of our schools. It’s just that today we are “much more aware” of them and the bullying issue in general. As much as schools can do to tackle the problem, it really is an issue, say experts, that must be addressed in the home.
Girls in middle school are the primary target, notes Quaid. “But we can’t effect change without the support of mothers, fathers, grandparents and boys, who often are the catalysts of bullying among girls.”