We've all got a story about bullying. I've been the victim and the perpetrator at different times. When director Lisa Cohen approached me in 2015 about collaborating on "Confessions of a Former Bully," I knew this was a chance to provide solutions to a problem that affects everyone.
There are an estimated 5,400 suicide attempts every day by teenagers in the US. Physical and social bullying is a factor in nearly all of these cases. Bullying behavior is learned in childhood, and when left unaddressed, can cause mass societal disfunction. Look no further than the bully in the white house for proof of this.
"Confessions of a Former Bully" is the only children's film which addresses the issue from the perspective of the perpetrator. By understanding the reasons people victimize others, we can address the issue at the root of the problem.
Natasha is the star of our film, and she is a real-life former bully. She bravely tells the story of how she and her classmates ostracized a fellow student, Jane, through all of middle school. As a young woman, Natasha committed herself to overcoming the pain which caused her bullying behavior. Eventually she reconciled with Jane, and the two girls created a friendship. Natasha's wisdom helps us to understand social bullying, and encourages us to examine our own pathological behaviors.
I contributed illustrations to the film, which were animated to tell Natasha's story. In my drawings, I tried to capture a balance between the playfulness of childhood, and the turbulence of adolescence. It is a age when we are still connected to the levity of youth, yet feel adult emotions of depression and insecurity.
As an artist, it is my deepest satisfaction when my work serves the greater good. It was such an honor to be a part of this project that premiered at the Children's Film Festival Seattle, in January 2017. The whole crew was thrilled to learn a few weeks ago, that we received an award for "Best Northwest Film" at the festival.
Going forward, we'd like to get this film into as many classrooms as possible. If you have an interest in showing this film as part of your anti-bullying educational program, please get in touch. You can email me, or contact the director through the film's website: http://www.cfbmovie.com
Thank you for reading, and remember to always practice your kindness. Our actions have more power than we know.