LIVINGSTON, NJ - In honor of LMAC’s Red Ribbon week for drug and alcohol prevention, a documentary, Bully, was screened Tuesday night in the Livingston High School auditorium, open to the public.
Livingston Municipal Alliance Committee’s Parent Education Coordinator and Board of Education candidate, Pam Chirls, told The Alternative Press that a lot of LMAC’s programming is based around bullying and drug and alcohol prevention.
Bully shines a spotlight on five students throughout the country whose lives have been affected by bullying in dramatic ways.
“The director and co-producer, Lee Hirsch and I decided to create the documentary because two eleven year olds, Carl Walker Hoover and Jahem Herrera took their lives due to bullying,” Co-producer of the documentary, Cynthia Lowen said. “We were going to take one year and be in a school year to look through the lens of those who were being bullied.”
After being told to go end his life amongst other malicious remarks made by fellow students, Tyler, at the age of 17, took his life as a result of bullying.
Another instance of bullying took place in Sioux City, Iowa, where a boy named Alex was bullied on his school bus day after day. Lowen told the crowd that in just one of the numerous instances, Alex became unconscious after his head was repeatedly hit against the side of the school bus.
The documentary also focused on Murray County, Georgia, high school student, Ja’Meya Johnson. After being harassed and bullied for a long period of time, Johnson stole her mother’s gun and threatened bus passengers with it. Johnson was charged with 45 felonies after mentally snapping.
According to Lowen, the film reflected on these students' stories so viewers can gain a perspective of the impact bullying can take on a child or teenager.
After the film, Lowen prompted a discussion to talk about strategies on how parents can handle bullying.
Lowen said that some recognizable signs that a child is being bullied are when they have missing or damaged property, are coming home late or early from school, are hungry from not attending lunch, are wearing clothing to cover specific parts of their bodies and are upset after receiving a text or going online.
On the other hand, she said that if your child is bullying, some obvious signs are if they lack empathy, don’t except responsibility for behavior, ignore rules, manipulate others, are secretive about online activity and their possessions have increased.
When bringing the matter to a higher authority, Lowen said you have to ask yourself and your child, “What do you realistically want to happen?” such as making new friends or partaking in an activity or team.
Lowen explained that if you see something that is going on with which you’re not comfortable, move forward and talk to other parents and educators regarding the matter.
“We see a culture in which bullying has totally become a norm,” Lowen said. “The sooner you can get involved regarding smaller things, the more it won’t escalate.”
Bully will be available on DVD and on Netflix in December/January. For more information on bullying, visit www.thebullyingproject.com.
The event was sponsored by LMAC, Livingston Public Schools, PT Council, HCHY and JCC MetroWest.