published Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Screening of anti-bullying film draws shock from Chattanooga audience

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    David Long is one story depicted in the film "Bully." The photo, taken at the mixing stage at Skywalker Ranch near Nicasio, Calif., tells the story of bullies and their victims. Long's son, David Long, hung himself in 2009 after years of being a bullying victim. Photo taken from Facebook with permission by the "Bully" director Lee Hirsch.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Bullying is something that cuts across all demographics.

That's why the documentary film "Bully," which follows families across America who have dealt with bullying, was chosen by Facing History and Ourselves, an educational and professional development organization that works to develop engaged and informed citizens by studying the Holocaust and other genocides, to be one of its community events. The film was screened at the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences on Tuesday night.

An estimated 13 million students in the United States are bullied every year, according to Rachel Shankman, senior director of Facing History and Ourselves, Memphis Office.

"For anybody who says, 'Our school doesn't have bullying,' or their community doesn't have bullying, they're not looking very hard, because it's a very real presence," she said.

As the audience watched the film, at times, sounds of shock and outrage could be heard. In a scene where a school administrator tries to change the subject when parents ask her to do something about their son's bullies, an audience member says, "Why is she doing nothing?"

Many people attended the movie to learn more about the presence of bullying in schools.

"My son was a victim of bullying at another school," said Elizabeth Bridger, whose two daughters attend CSAS, before the movie began. "I'm hoping what they talk about, the schools will actually implement. Are they going to get involved and try to stop this or are they going to do what others have done and do nothing?"

Lisa and Fred Flint said though their children had not experienced bullying, they wanted to learn more in order to teach their children what to do should they encounter bullying.

"We were all in school growing up, and it's a cruel place, and I don't think it's changed," Fred Flint said.

Flint said he found the documentary to be powerful, and Lisa Flint called it "eye-opening."

"The takeaway is the emphasis on how important communication is, and to be aware of what goes on, the good and the bad," Lisa Flint said.

Shankman said before the film that she hoped it would encourage those present to find out more information and share it with their families.

"Understand that bullying is a symptom," Shankman said. "And understand that it has consequences if we don't deal with it case by case, community by community."

about Rachel Bunn...

Rachel Bunn is originally from Ellijay, Ga., and graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in magazines and history. While at UGA, she wrote for the student magazine UGAzine, served as news editor for the student newspaper, The Red & Black, and spent a semester studying British history at Oxford University in Oxford, England. She has previously worked at The Rockdale Citizen in Conyers, Ga., and The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the ...

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