Updated Fri, Sep 28, 2012 1:16 pm
It's a sobering statistic: According to The Bully Project, over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation.
Once seen as kids "just messing around," bullying is now being looked at as an epidemic.
Aware of the fear and anxiety schoolchildren can face, documentary filmmaker Lee Hirsch is helping to bring an end to this social issue through awareness and education.
Hirsch's film Bully intimately follows five kids and their families as they deal with daily stress caused by school bullying. This intense film shows an honest, yet startling, reality of how bullying can affect both victims and their tormentors.
Having screened the film in the spring, The Athena Cinema has decided to bring it back, this time featuring a special panel discussion.
"After getting a great response from the Ohio University Department of Education and other educational administrators, we wanted to bring it back to the area because we felt there's a lot of relevant issues that could be addressed, especially in a town mixed with college and high school students," said Alexandra Kamody, Athena Cinema managing director.
The Athena Cinema will present Bully Monday, Oct. 1 to Thursday, Oct. 4, with show times at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day. The panel discussion will be held on Tues. Oct. 2 after the 4 p.m. showing.
The panel moderator will be Christine Suniti Bhat, Ph.D., licensed professional counselor, 2012-2013 president of the Ohio Counseling Association and associate professor in Counselor Education at Ohio University.
Bhat will be joined by four panelists: Nancy Baur, former special education teacher and representative for the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays organization; Redina Dailey, school counselor at Alexander Junior High and High Schools in Albany; Mara Giglio, director of Appalachian Peace and Justice Network and consultant for the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management; and Adam Safran, a 29-year-old Athens resident who grew up in Athens and graduated from Ohio University with a degree in History. Safran has Asperger's Syndrome and will share some of his insights and experiences from school.
Kamody said that audiences can expect to feel enraged and to have a pretty rattling experience while viewing the film, but thinks it’s important to deal with the issues, even if isn't pleasant.
"This is an important conversation to have, especially for those who are interested in pursuing teaching, mentoring or counseling and will most likely be dealing with this issue," she said.
Kamody also hopes the audience will participate during Tuesday's panel discussion.
"It's not just the same moviegoing experience, where you come and you watch," she explained. "It’s a communal and social opportunity. I hope that people take a second look at the issue [bullying] and realize the horrible effects that it can have on kids."
This screening event is sponsored by Arts for Ohio. Admission is free for Ohio University students, faculty and staff with a valid OU ID and for any Athens County educators, principals and staff with a valid school ID.
For more information, visit www.athenacinema.com/bully.