In Bulldog Theater, lower Olmsted, students from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, as well as other educators and adults of the local community watched “Finding Kind,” a documentary of two girls, Lauren Parsekian and Molly Stroud, traveling across the country to promote kindness between girls and anti-bullying campaigns. The emotional repercussions were obvious as two seniors from Roosevelt, Ellorah Jones and Madeline El-Baraudi, walked out, arm-in-arm, tears flowing.
“I understood when some of the girls said they just wanted a friend because I’ve been a friend, and not a lot of people have been friends back,” El-Baraudi said.
The girls explained that, other than with each other, they found it hard to converse and make friends with girls at their school because of judgmental attitudes and bullying. The documentary focused on preventing judgment based on appearances and attempting to understand others’ stories.
Leslie Starehocker, a staff member at Childcare Resource and Referral, agreed that bullying starts early but is just as visible in adult women.
“We need to start somewhere. We need to start practicing kindness,” Starehocker said.
The documentary claims that 100 percent of girls are victims of girl-to-girl bullying at some point in their lifetime. Using a “Truth Booth” to capture thousands of video logs and “Kind Cards” to promote apologies, underlying reasons, such as insecurity and jealousy, surfaced as causes to the bullying epidemic.
First-year Sam Hoyt commented that the irrationality and immaturity fueling the fighting “just didn’t need to happen”.
“They (bullies) do it because of jealousy, through social media. It’s not necessary,” Hoyt said.
The issue of cyber-bullying and its ability to hold girls less accountable for their actions was brought up several times and resonated with the audience. First-year Gretta Gillen attested that the new ways to hurt others are available and being used.
“Girls are sneaky when they fight and they’re sneaky when they bully,” Gillen said. “They don’t outright say you’re fat or ugly or your outfit sucks; they just tell all their friends behind your back.”
The Kind Campaign and its fight to raise awareness in schools, is spreading across the country. Jenith Burry, a before- and after-school child care worker, was glad to see the documentary and the work being done.
“Things can be done. Things can be better.”