Program note: Watch the AC360° documentary "The Bully Effect" on CNNI at 8 p.m. ET tonight. The film follows the lives of families featured in the movie "Bully."
By Lee Hirsch
As a documentary filmmaker, I’m privileged to tell the stories of others safely from behind the camera, but when I started to work on the movie “Bully,” more than three years ago, I had to revisit my own experience of being bullied in school. I also had to face how that impacted my adult life.
Bullying for me was violent and, at times, terrifying. Black and blue turned to yellow for months on end. In the early days of making the film, it was about validating the experience for myself and for others who have experienced the humiliation and sadness of being a victim. Now, the key question is how do we tap into the momentum the film has generated to create lasting, positive change?
Programming note: Tune in to CNN tonight at 8 p.m. ET to watch "The Bully Effect."
The new AC360° documentary, "The Bully Effect," follows the lives of families who were featured in the eye-opening film "Bully," and also the filmmaker Lee Hirsch. CNN producers dedicated a year to tracing their journeys of self-discovery, and the transformative experiences they had as a result of the movie.
They have become empowered through telling their stories of struggle and perseverance. In their own unique ways, they're on the front lines of the movement to stop bullying. As you can see in"The Bully Effect," they were victims who are now inspirations and advocates for others suffering in silence.
There has been a remarkable outpouring of support and responses to the documentary. Viewers have taken to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, AC360.com, and iReport to share their own stories, advice, and words of encouragement. It's a testament to the changes happening around the country in large and small communities, led by adults and kids who believe, like Anderson Cooper does, that enough is enough.
Editor's note: Stuart Snyder is the President and COO of Cartoon Network. Tune in tonight at 8 p.m ET and on March 9 at 8 p.m. ET to watch AC360°'s "The Bully Effect," created in partnership with Cartoon Network.
Just last week, I had the privilege of standing with Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) and the staff and students of Philadelphia’s Harding Middle School to support them in speaking up against bullying. We raised Cartoon Network’s new STOP BULLYING: SPEAK UP flag to support a school that is working tirelessly to create a vibrant, safe, respectful educational community where all students are accepted and valued.
Accepted and valued; something all our nation’s children deserve to feel, but many don’t.
Editor's note: Robert Casey, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. Watch a special edition of AC360°'s "The Bully Effect" tonight on CNN at 8 p.m. ET, and on March 9 at 8 p.m. ET.
CNN and the Cartoon Network's presentation of the AC360° special feature, "The Bully Effect," spotlight a serious issue affecting children across our nation. The film underscores the damaging consequences of bullying and the need to prevent and respond to it.
Lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure that our schools are safe, which is why I have made addressing this problem a priority in the United States Senate. I firmly believe that all children have a right to an education free from fear of being bullied. The denial of this basic right is a betrayal of children who simply want to learn.
Programming note: "The Bully Effect" is a new AC360 documentary that follows the lives of three families since they were featured in "Bully." It airs Sunday, March 3 and Saturday, March 9 at 8 p.m. ET.
For AC360's "The Bully Effect," Lee Hirsch, the director of the film "Bully," returns, for the first time in 27 years, to the middle school where he was victimized as a child.
Hirsch's movie is an eye-opening look at the psychological damage caused by bullying. He's used "Bully" to launch a movement to make schools safer and teach kids and parents how to combat the problem. Every student in his former middle school went to see the film as part of his initiative for 1 million children to watch it.
In anticipation of tonight's documentary, "The Bully Effect," we've heard from many of you on Facebook and Twitter and AC360.com. There's a clear common thread from people representing different age groups, ethnicities, locations, and background: we must take action to prevent children from suffering at the hands of bullies.
As Anderson Cooper wrote in an op-ed today, empathy and understanding are the weapons we need to give kids to combat destructive behavior. Bystanders need to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Every child deserves to go to school and grow up in a safe environment, free from threats and harassment.
Editor's note: Don't miss the premiere of "The Bully Effect" on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET tonight. The documentary airs again on March 3 and March 9 at 8 p.m. ET.
A red-faced Gordon Ramsay gets nose-to-nose with an older man and shouts, "Wake up!" He calls another chef's food "rotten." He reduces a middle-aged woman to hysterical tears. And all that's just in the opening credits of "Kitchen Nightmares."
For the next hour of the British culinary icon's popular reality TV series, there is little in the way of praise or pats on the back for the chefs he's coaching. Instead, he swears. He throws food. He calls people "stupid" and "disgusting pigs." His entire performance is based on sharp criticism and what some may argue is bullying-type behavior. Viewers eat it up.
Nightmarish behavior is the stuff reality TV shows are made of. Ramsay is certainly not alone. Tami Roman on VH1's "Basketball Wives" calls her friends "bitches" and physically attacks one of them in front of a fancy Miami restaurant. A study of the U.K.'s version of "The Apprentice" found it depicted 85 aggressive acts an hour. "American Idol" showed 57 aggressive acts an hour.
Programming note: Watch the new AC360° documentary "The Bully Effect" at 10 p.m. ET tonight on CNN, and on March 3 and 9 at 8 p.m. ET.
In the last few years, awareness about bullying has increased dramatically. While some adults may still think bullying is just a youthful rite of passage, more and more parents, educators and kids understand that bullying today is worse than in previous generations.
It doesn't stop at the school yard or even a child's front door. Access to the Internet and social media websites mean kids can be bullied and tormented around the clock, even in the supposed safety of their own homes. The cruelty that can come with the strike of a button on a keyboard can hurt just as much as any punch or push in a playground.
We've produced a documentary called "The Bully Effect" which follows the stories of a number of people filmmaker Lee Hirsch introduced audiences to in his remarkable 2012 film "Bully." These are kids and parents who have taken their pain, their suffering, their grief and turned it into action. They are truly inspiring.
Editor's note: Don't miss the premiere of "The Bully Effect" on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET Thursday. Note graphic language in this story.
Brandon Turley didn't have friends in sixth grade. He would often eat alone at lunch, having recently switched to his school without knowing anyone.
While browsing MySpace one day, he saw that someone from school had posted a bulletin - a message visible to multiple people - declaring that Turley was a "fag." Students he had never even spoken with wrote on it, too, saying they agreed.
Feeling confused and upset, Turley wrote in the comments, too, asking why his classmates would say that. The response was even worse: He was told on MySpace that a group of 12 kids wanted to beat him up, that he should stop going to school and die. On his walk from his locker to the school office to report what was happening, students yelled things like "fag" and "fatty."
Programming note: Learn more about Kirk’s story and see how he has turned grief into a mission to help kids in the AC360° documentary “The Bully Effect” on Sunday, March 3 and Saturday, March 9 at 8 p.m. ET.
Kirk Smalley and his wife, Laura, endured every parent’s worst nightmare – burying their child. Their 11-year-old son, Ty, was a victim of bullying.
“This kid that had been picking on him for over two years, came up and starting picking on him again. And I guess Ty finally had enough. He retaliated … he got caught. He was suspended for three days. They called his mama. She went and picked him up, took him home,” said Kirk Smalley.
“She told Ty to do his homework, told him to do his chores, told him we’d talk about it when we got home that evening. When Laura came home … she found out that Ty didn’t do his homework. Our boy didn’t do his chores. Instead, he killed himself on our bedroom floor.”
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