The Converse Diversity Coalition, a student-led group dedicated to celebrating and educating about our community's diverse culture, will host a film screening and discussion about The Bully Project on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in The Barnet Room of Montgomery Student Center. The event is free and open to the public. The documentary film has garnered widespread attention for tackling the difficult and disturbing realities of bullying. Students, teachers and parents in the Spartanburg community are encouraged to attend and participate in the discussion, which will be led by Dr. Sheryl Moss of the School of Education and Graduate Studies at Converse and Desmond Cato, coordinator of student services for Spartanburg School District 7.
"Viewers will become emotionally attached to the students and families in the film, and they will walk away wanting to do everything in their power to prevent the events depicted from happening to anyone ever again."
According to The Bully Project, more than 5 million American kids will be bullied at school, online, on the bus, at home, through their cell phones and on the streets of their towns this year, making bullying the most common form of violence experienced by young people in this country. "The Bully Project is the first feature documentary film to show how we've all been affected by bullying, whether we've been victims, perpetrators or stood silent witness. The world we inhabit as adults begins on the playground."
Time magazine touts The Bully Project as "a punishing movie your kids must see" and the New York Times says it "forces you to confront not the cruelty of specific children — who have their own problems, and their good sides as well — but rather the extent to which that cruelty is embedded in our schools and therefore in our society as a whole." The movie is unrated and therefore not shown in public schools. The Times notes, "There is a little swearing in the movie, and a lot of upsetting stuff, but while some of it may shock parents, very little of it is likely to surprise their school-age children."
The film is a part of Converse's third annual "Love-In," which was inspired by the showing of Anatomy of Hate: A dialogue of Hope three years ago. "Converse students have a passion for taking a stand against social injustices," said Caitlin McAlhany, a member of the Converse Diversity Coalition. "This year we decided that bullying needed to be brought to a forefront. The film induces strong emotions. Viewers will become emotionally attached to the students and families in the film, and they will walk away wanting to do everything in their power to prevent the events depicted from happening to anyone ever again. We hope it will spark the flame needed to not only create open communication between students, parents, and teachers, but also make a difference in the schools that we send our children to everyday."
The discussion following the film will enable the audience to share thoughts and opinions about the film and expand their understanding of how to take a stand against bullying. "It is important for our audience to walk away with the belief that they have the ability to make a change," says McAlhany.