In America today, one out of four teenagers, out of a total of 13 million students are bullied. In addition, 15 percent of college students report being bullied while in college. These statistics have led students to do something about this issue.
On Nov. 14, Diversity Affairs in the Center for Student Involvement, Black Student Union, Hispanic American Leadership Organization, Gay Straight Alliance, Psychology Club and Psych Investigators sponsored a showing of Lee Hirsch’s documentary, “Bully,” in the Cody Commons.
According to the Gay Straight Alliance president, senior Morgan Roberts, the groups came together to sponsor this event to “bridge the gap” in dealing with bullying. “We wanted to bring people of different backgrounds together and kickstart an anti-bullying campaign at Fort Hays State … We want to make sure that we don’t just show this movie, but that we follow it up as well,” Roberts said.
The documentary aims to inform students of the increasing problem of bullying in schools across the country. This is done by showing the stories of five bullied students.
In his film, Hirsch tells the story of Alex, a young boy from Iowa who is subjected to bullying in school and on the bus. He is shown being subjected to verbal and physical abuse. While he tells school officials of his situation, it becomes obvious that school administrators lack the skills necessary to solve Alex’s bullying problem.
Other stories within the bullying film include the struggles of a lesbian student in Oklahoma and an incarcerated teen in Mississippi. Both discuss their struggles with bullying. The former speaks of the torture she endured due to her sexual identity, while the latter discusses how she “just snapped,” causing her to be incarcerated after bringing a gun onto her school bus to confront her bully.
While the above stories end positively, Hirsch examines the stories of two teens, Tyler Long of Georgia and Ty Smalley of Oklahoma, whose struggles with bullying ended in suicide.
The film shows how much of an impact bullying has on the parents of the bullied teens. The parents of Long and Smalley are seen grieving and trying to understand why their sons took their lives. Both teens’ parents ask themselves what they could have done to prevent this. To ensure that this does not happen to any other teen, Long and Smalley’s parents became speakers for the National anti-bullying effort.
After the film’s showing, the audience was asked questions relating to bullying.
They were asked to raise their hands if they thought that had been bullied or had been a bystander. A number of people raised their hands, stating that bullying affects students at Fort Hays.
While some feel bullying is not an issue in college, others disagree.
“Bullying happens a lot more often than you think. People may not see it as a problem, but it affects other people,” junior Ty Cole said.
Psych Investigators member, freshman Lynaye Shelton said she thought bullying was a problem for universities as well. “I think that bullying is on campus. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there,” Shelton said.
Overall, students said the film changed their views on bullying. “I thought the film was very informative and inspirational at the same time. It made me want to be active in bullying prevention,” Cole said.
“I learned stuff that I didn’t know before about bullying. It made me want to do more to participate and help prevent bullying,” Shelton said.
If one is being bullied or threatened, Roberts said there are actions to take. “The first thing you can do is realize that the bully is trying to make you feel ashamed of yourself. There are people that care,” Roberts said. Roberts added that there are places that students can go to such as the Kelly Center if they feel that they are being threatened or bullied.
To learn more about the issue of bullying, there will be a panel discussion on the issue Nov. 29 in Cody Commons.