On April 28, Cartoon Network will team up with CNN anchor and anti-bullying activist Anderson Cooper to show “The Bully Effect,” an original documentary produced in partnership with CNN.
The documentary is a follow-up to the movie Bully (2011), by filmmaker Lee Hirsch; it was filmed in schools all over America to show that bullying needs to be taken seriously rather than ignored.
As a part of Cartoon Network’s award-winning initiative against bullying, it will be aired commercial-free, with additional content for whole-family viewing, at 5:30 and 8:00 PM EST/PST.
There will also be a live online Q&A with bullying prevention expert and author Rosalind Wiseman at Stop Bullying Speak Up. Participation requires a free Cartoon Network account, and all questions and comments will be monitored to ensure appropriateness.
Bully and The Bully Effect feature the stories of three people profoundly impacted by bullying; then 12-year-old Alex Libby was being so horribly brutalized on the bus ride to school every day that director Hirsch jettisoned all neutrality and told school administrators that he was afraid for Alex’s safety. Kirk Smalley crusades against bullying because after years of torment, his son Ty committed suicide at the age of 11. Kelby Johnson, who came out as a lesbian in middle school and later as transgender, took so much abuse he attempted suicide three times.
Bullying is an especially serious problem among LGBT students; 90% of LGBT teenagers report having been verbally harassed, and a quarter of those said they have been physically assaulted.
Though every school has rules against bullying on the books, of the students who reported being bullied or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, in about a third of cases the school administrators did nothing to remedy the situation.
Ty and Kelby’s response to the situation is also unfortunately common; it’s estimated that LGBT youth attempt suicide at a rate two to three times higher than other teens. Too many teachers and other staff dismiss bullying as a “rite of passage,” despite evidence to the contrary.
The language and violence depicted resulted in the MPAA initially giving Bully an R rating, which would have banned teenagers from watching a movie depicting what their own peers do and say to each other.
The Bully Effect can also be seen online in its entirety here; the password is “speakup.”