‘Bully’ film screening, town hall gives students and officials opportunity to …
Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Co.
“Recent legislation in Michigan, what bullying is and how it might impact others are the reasons for this meeting,” said Rich Coleman, public safety community coordinator for Pittsfield Township, which includes part of the Ann Arbor school district as well as the Saline and Milan school districts.
The film has spawned the Bully Project, a collaborative effort that brings together organizations that share a commitment to ending bullying. This morning’s meeting featured two panels: one made up of Pittsfield Township officials and legislators, and the other made up of students from middle and high schools.
“Bully” has gotten a lot of attention in the region because Greenhills School student Katy Butler was instrumental in the campaign to change to documentary’s R-rating to a PG-13 rating so more students could see it. The documentary drew a strong reaction at its Ann Arbor premiere last month at the State Theater.
Rep. David Rutledge, D-Superior Township is a co-sponsor of Public Act 241 that passed in December 2011, also known as Matt’s Safe School Law, which requires public schools in the state to adopt a policy to prohibit harassment and bullying by students.
Rutledge told the audience of about 150 people, “When you don’t treat others like you would have them treat you, it’s serious business. If you can keep your head when others are losing theirs, that’s the test.”
Also speaking were Pittsfield Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal and Matt Harshberger, director of public safety for the township.
“You can contact the police if you know of or experience bullying,” said Harshberger. “We have no problem getting involved and helping out even if there’s not a crime involved because we don’t want to see it get worse.”
Tiffany Small, a police officer in the Saline school district also spoke, as did Saline High School student Julie Soisson.
“Students who witness bullying have the power to speak up,” Soisson told the audience.
Milan High School students Clint Lafferty and Shayna Smith, members of the panel, are part of a peer mediation program at their school.
“Peer mediation offers students a nonjudgmental environment to talk their problems out,” said Lafferty.
“We help kids solve conflicts before it goes to an administrator or police officer,” said Smith. “We promote trust in peers.”
Following the screening of “Bully,” kids and parents were invited to participate in a videotaped response of what they thought of the movie, and what changes they can make with friends, in school and in the community respecting others.