The pre-screening of the film ‘Bully’ last week met with an enthusiastic response from attendees. Carol Denham’s son committed suicide in October aged 13, and it emerged he had been bullied.
“Kids aren’t learning empathy or compassion or respect,” said Carol Dunham, who wore a photo of her son on a chain around her neck. “They’ve got to see what these kids are going through.”
She also hopes the film prompts those doing the bullying to get the help they need.
The film open Friday March 30 and the goal of the film is to encourage communities to discuss the issue and come up with ways to combat bullying before more young lives are lost.
The director Lee Hirsch was bullied as a child and hopes the film galvanizes action:
“I hope they get hope and feel change is possible and how exciting it is when communities come together on an issue,” he said.
The documentary follows five victims of bullying and their families through the 2009-2010 school year. It gives viewers an intimate view of their struggles and aims to encourage empathy that would lead to action. Two of the students commit suicide.
According to statistics relayed in the film, 13 million kids will be suffer bullying this year and every month three million students miss classes because they fear for their safety.
Doug Kennedy and Laurie Frank were among Sycamore district staff at the screening.
“Intense,” said Kennedy, assistant principal at the junior high. “Every adult working in a school should see it. It’s not an urban, suburban or rural problem.
“It’s an all kids, all walks of life problem.”
A girl named Jessica Logan, a Sycamore High School graduate, killed herself after nude cell phone pictures of her where shared among hundreds of people. The Jessica Logan Act was signed by Ohio Governor Kasich in February, and although many districts are already doing much of what the new law requires, ‘Bully’ and the associated ‘The Bully Project’ hope to raise awareness even further to promote national awareness rather than mere pockets of relative safety.
Parents should also be aware that today, bullying has moved beyond the classroom and the playground and is becoming a real problem in cyberspace.