"I have been called so many names off of Twitter and Facebook," says a student named Briana in a half-hour documentary on bullying in Wisconsin, released this month by Educational Television Productions of Northeast Wisconsin (ETP-NEW) in collaboration with NEWIST/CESA 7.
If a Bully Watches This profiles Briana and two other students, Erick and Jacob. In a trailer released last month, all three appear confident as they talk about their three different stories, and what they hope will change.
Experiences of autism, ethnicity, and homosexuality are included in their stories, which bring viewers into the worlds of students bullied because they were perceived as different from the crowd.
If a Bully Watches This includes footage of one-time victims now settled happily into accepting peer groups.
"A lot of the time, it doesn't take someone bleeding, it [only] takes a comment to make someone feel like they aren't human, or make someone feel awful about themselves," says Jacob.
If a Bully Watches This premieres on Wisconsin Public Television September 23rd at 9:30 p.m., with encore broadcasts during the following week. It is already viewable via the Wisconsin Media Lab website.
A teaching guide will also be available from NEWIST/CESA 7.
"Our goal is that students, faculty, and families will watch this program and open up a dialogue on this important topic," said co-producer Dean Leisgang.
"We are thankful for the three families that shared their personal stories with us, so others can learn from their painful experiences," said co-producer Eileen Littig.
The group is also thankful to the DPI's Steven Fernan, assistant director of Student Services / Prevention, and Wellness, who gets an acknowledgment in the credits for helping them understand the nature of bullying in today's schools. One of this year's Wisconsin Teachers of the Year, School Social Worker Andrea Pasqualucci, also gets a nod, for recommending one of the articulate youth featured.
The program comes out in time to be used by schools, students, and families for National Bullying Prevention Month in October.