Bullying Won't End If People Don't Speak Up

New documentary targeting bullying epidemic urges people not to stay silent.

Posted: 03/14/2012 06:34 PM EDT

(Photo: Cartoon Network)

The days when “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was a satisfying and useful retort to schoolyard taunts are a thing of the past. Indeed, in an age when the humiliation of being called ugly, stupid, fish lips and worse can be uploaded onto the Internet for all the world to see, words not only hurt people, they sometimes kill. But they also can heal, according to a new Cartoon Network documentary about bullying called Speak Up that the cable network and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius premiered on Wednesday at Washington, D.C.’s Stuart-Hobson Middle School.

 

The film begins with a special message from President Obama, but the most compelling parts are the sometimes heartbreaking tales from kids around the nation who share stories about being bullied and offer advice about dealing with the problem. It also includes appearances by celebrities like NBA All-Star Chris Webber, who talks with a group of kids about how to reach out for help, and Pro BMX champion Matt Wilhelm, who talked about how he channeled his frustrations about being bullied into his bike — and became a star. Speak Up will air on Cartoon Network on March 18 at 8 p.m. ET.

 

“This is a wound as serious as having blood coming down their arm; it’s a little less visible, but very, very serious,” Sebelius said.

 

She also said that parents should question their children everyday and if they’re nonresponsive or don’t want to go to school, those are signs that they may be being bullied. They also should find someone at their children’s school who also can keep an eye out.

 

Stuart-Hobson student Taijah, 11, said that sometimes kids become bullies to be part of the crowd.

 

“If they have friends who are bullies are they really friends? Some of these kids don’t hang out with the right type of crowd and are just following other children. I’ve actually known some kids who don’t want to bully kids but they have these friends who they stick with in the wrong type of crowd,” she said, comparing the challenges of middle school to the reality television show Survivor.

 

Christian, also 11, agreed that there’s often a lot of peer pressure.

 

“I think that we shouldn’t have [cliques]. The whole world would be different without bullying,” she said.

 

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