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How to Stop a Bully - TV Smart Talk

Written by Nell McCormack Abom, Host Smart Talk TV | May 9, 2012 5:41 PM

How could kids be so cruel and adults so clueless?  Those are just a few of the questions viewers are left pondering after viewing the documentary "Bully." It's a powerful telling of the horrendous verbal, physical and psychological abuse inflicted upon vulnerable schoolchildren by their peers every day in some American schools. Call 1-800-729-7532 tonight at 8 to join the conversation on Smart Talk.

We'll talk with Sundance Film Festival and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Lee Hirsch, the man behind "Bully."  The film sparked controversy when the national Motion Picture Association of America slapped it with an R rating for profanity, effectively barring young people under the age of 17 from viewing it in theaters without a parent or guardian.  The distributors of the film instead chose to release it as "unrated." 

The documentary follows five children and their families for one school year.  It is a harrowing account of the relentless, aggressive bullying that torments these kids.  There are two suicides in the film making it imperative, experts say, for parents to talk with their children before and after they see the film.  Hirsch has followed up the documentary with "The Bully Project," a nationwide social-action campaign.   

The tragic consequences of bullying struck the midstate two years ago when a Midd-West High School freshman took his life.  Friends said Brandon Bitner struggled for acceptance and was criticized by classmates for how he dressed.  His death thrust bullying into the local limelight.  Just last month, a parent tearfully asked the Susquehanna Township School Board to intervene to protect her daughter from bullying.  Many schools in Central Pennsylvania have put a greater emphasis on peer-to-peer programs to stop bullying.  Lori Wiltshire, a counselor at Hayshire Elementary School in the Central York School District, will share some of the most promising anti-bullying programs she uses with students.  Nick Curry cofounded a creative-arts program, REACH, first in the Central York High School and now housed at the YWCA.  He uses drama to touch the students' hearts and lead them to communicate and problem-solve without bullying or violence.  He'll discuss their successes and challenges with the panel.

Please join the conversation by calling in live tonight at 8 to 1-800-729-7532, emailing us at smarttalk@witf.org, posting a comment below this article, or to witf's Facebook page.

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