MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- School district officials and members of the Manhattan community are hoping that local students can better understand the negative impact of bullying through the eyes of those who have been victims of it.
Eisenhower Middle School students attended a screening of the movie Bully Tuesday at Manhattan’s Seth Childs 12 Cinema.
"It follows five kids who experienced bullying and two of those kids ultimately died by suicide and so it’s a real emotional documentary that helps the kids really get at the root of the negative impacts of bullying to help them have some decent conversations about what we can do to stop this and create some awareness about it," said Michael Welsh, Executive Director at Cornerstone Family Counseling Center in Manhattan.
Dr. Welsh organized the showing of the movie with local businesses. He says it’s important kids know that the community is behind them when it comes to stopping bullying- a problem being fueled in part by social media.
"Bullying has been around forever. We do know that to some extent it’s getting worse because of social media. It’s allowing kids to have access other kids 24 hours a day and someone can say something about another person and it spreads to the entire school within minutes. It’s a bigger discussion about treating other people right. It’s a bigger discussion about community support. We have 30 volunteers that are here today and 30 businesses that stood up and got behind these kids, creating community," Welsh said.
Bully prevention programs have been in place at Eisenhower since 2006, and the school's principal, Greg Hoyt, thinks they’ve made some strides in the culture and climate within the school.
"It takes constant vigilance and you just can’t ever stop. We don’t want any student or any individual to be treated poorly, to feel left out, to feel targeted and insignificant so we’re constantly working at it," Hoyt told WIBW.
The students spent the afternoon doing team building exercises after the movie and discussing its emotional impact.
"This isn't a school problem, this isn’t a family problem, this is a society, a community problem and we have to work together as a society to create some real change," Welsh said.
Since the release of Bully, the film has been shown to thousands of kids, teachers, parents, and advocates- a national movement to end bullying.